Dudley Leisure were known to be a strong, experienced side but Falcons Black made a promising start against the home team. Jade Forbes-Wattley and Issy Beighton (who also plays for Derby’s Pennine) applied pressure in the defending circle, whilst Charlotte Roye and Helen Hancock linked well in attack, providing Dudley with plenty to think about.
Falcons Black finished the first quarter with a 9-13 lead.
Quarter time saw Lauren Steadman (who also plays for Derby’s Pennine and Netball Super League Franchise team, Loughborough Lightning) replace Dominique McKee at Wing Defence (WD), Ellie Durcan come on for Hannah Joseph at Centre (C), Helen Hancock move from Goal Attack (GA) to Goal Shooter (GS) and Christie Simpson take to the court at Goal Attack (GA).
Steadman’s introduction tightened Falcons Black’s defence, which produced a number of turnovers during the second quarter. However, Dudley Leisure’s defence also increased their pressure on the away team, which not only interrupted the link between Falcons Black’s defence and attack through court but also forced Falcons Black’s attack into errors. Consequently, Steadman and co.’s turnovers were not converted into goals and Dudley Leisure soared ahead to lead 28-13 at half-time.
Further changes were made to the Falcons Black team for the third quarter. Hannah Joseph came on at Wing Attack (WA) and Katie Flaherty moved to Centre (C). Lauren Steadman moved to Goal Defence (GD).
The changes allowed the away team to approach the game in a much calmer fashion and it wasn’t long before they were dictating the play. Balls, which struggled to get into the attacking circle during the second quarter, were now finding the shooters again and Christie Simpson showed why she had been picked for England U19 squad by putting away shot after shot. It was now Dudley Leisure’s turn to throw balls away as Anna Mulderrig (Wing Defence, WD) stuck to her player like glue and Jade Forbes-Wattley (Goal Keeper, GK) was on hand to pick off any balls that did get through. Steadman also put in another great performance during the quarter and the team effort enabled Falcons Black to close the gap to just eight goals (Dudley Leisure 37-29 Falcons Black).
With a win in sight, no changes were made by the away team for the final quarter as they continued to build on their second-half performance. Playing with confidence, Falcons Black brought the score line to within six goals and were closing in on victory. However, two errors in the attacking end allowed Dudley Leisure to break away at pace, which proved to be costly for Falcons Black.
Both teams dug deep and maintained their own centre passes for the remainder of the quarter, going goal-for-goal until the end. Ultimately, this meant that the away team couldn’t close the gap anymore and the match ended Dudley Leisure 47-38 Falcons Black.
Despite the score line, Falcons Black came away encouraged by their overall performance and in anticipation of the reverse fixture in March next year, where Dudley Leisure would have to travel to Loughborough.
Lauren Steadman was awarded the Player of the Match for her brilliant defensive work.
Starting line-up: Charlotte Roye (Goal Shooter), Christie Simpson (Goal Attack), Katie Flaherty (Wing Attack), Hannah Joseph (Centre), Dominique McKee (Wing Defence), Issy Beighton (Goal Defence), and Jade Forbes-Wattley (Goal Keeper).