BLACKBURN Hawks’ fate will be decided in an end-of-season relegation play-off after they failed to beat Billingham Bombers.

Hawks will face Manchester Phoenix, who have secured second place in Division Two of the English National Ice-Hockey League (North), in a winner-takes-all two-legged tie on the weekend of March 21.

After beating Kingston Jets 3-0 in a ‘do or die’ match at the Blackburn Arena on Saturday evening, Hawks then crashed to a 5-2 defeat at the hands of the Bombers 24 hours later, which condemned them to the play-offs.

General manager Andy Slater said: “We are all gutted because we shouldn’t be there, but how many teams in our position say that?

“We’ve lost games we should have won or drawn, but now we’ve got to hope we stay up through the play-offs.

“It’s all about who holds their nerve now under pressure. Both teams will be doing their utmost to come out on top and we’ve got to make sure that’s us.”

Knowing that anything less than a victory would condemn them to the play-offs, Hawks struggled to find their rhythm against the Jets.

With over half of the game gone, the deadlock was finally broken by David Meikle, who gleefully gobbled up the rebound after Richard Bentham’s initial shot was saved.

Further strikes from Bentham and Les Millie then sealed a precious 3-0 victory.

However, needing another win 24 hours later, Hawks came up short in what proved to be a physical encounter with Billingham.

Things looked ominous as the Bombers raced into a 3-0 lead inside the opening 10 minutes.

Despite a determined fight-back, which featured goals from Sam Dunford and Meikle, Hawks ended up losing 5-2.