On Sunday 18th November Falcons Black played third in the table, Kent’s Telstars Netball Club, in what turned out to be a nail-biting England Netball Premier League Division 2 encounter.
Playing high-flying Telstars was always going to be difficult for Falcons Black. Injuries meant the squad was somewhat depleted and only seven players were available for selection.
However, the disappointment of last week’s loss ensured that the Leicestershire-based, Falcons Black team came out fighting. The players did themselves proud and worked hard for one another on the court. In this season’s previous games, matches had been lost during the first quarter, so it was important that the Falcons Black team started strongly. And started strongly they did. In the first quarter there were some great feeds from Wing Attack (WA) Katie Flaherty to both shooters and at the other end of the court Jade Forbes-Wattley (Goal Keeper, GK) and Lauren Steadman (Goal Defence, GD) turned the ball over numerous times to create multiple attacking opportunities. It was the best first quarter that Falcons Black had played all season and they deserved their two-goal advantage at the end of the 15 minutes. Falcons Black 12-10 Telstars.
Quarter two saw both sides make mistakes and miss shots whilst under pressure but these periods were balanced out by other periods of fantastic netball. The score remained close despite Telstars scoring three goals without a Falcons Black reply. Falcons Black’s Hannah Joseph, playing Centre (C), worked tirelessly to move the ball from defence to attack in a composed manner and she linked well with Sofija Djokic, at Wing Defence (WD), to get the ball out safely. Some more forced errors at crucial times allowed Telstars to gain a one-goal lead as the quarter finished, Falcons Black 23-24 Telstars.
At half time, Telstars made some changes and it took Falcons Black a few minutes to settle again and bring the scores back level. Falcons Black’s defence continued to force Telstars into mistakes but they struggled to capitalise on these opportunities and it allowed Telstars to stay in the game. Telstars upped the defensive pressure, forcing Falcons Black to play backwards in order to move forward again. Falcons Black’s Christie Simpson then took a knock to the head but the time out worked to the Loughborough team’s advantage. Falcons Black composed themselves and figured out how to overcome Telstars’ tactics and quarter 3 finished with Falcons Black still trailing by only one goal. Falcons Black 33-34 Telstars.
After a motivational speech from Falcons Black’s coaches Kaylea McQuade and Donna Swann, Falcons Black went into the fourther quarter knowing they had to give everything to come away with a win. Katie Flaherty moved from Wing Attack (WA) to Centre (C), with Hannah Joseph moving to Wing Attack (WA).
The final quarter and therefore the match would be won by the team that could keep their composure. The ball travelled from end to end with both Falcons Black and Telstars shooters converting their chances. It was goal for goal. But then Falcons Black made the first mistake by losing the ball. Jade Forbes-Wattley and Lauren Steadman gave their best efforts to get it back but Telstars gained the first real advantage of the quarter. The clock was ticking and with only three minute left Falcons Black were down by two goals. Sofija Djokic stepped up to the plate and applied some great pressure to Telstars Wing Attack (WA), forcing her into making errors. Suddenly, Falcons Black’s defensive pair were finding easy turn overs. Lauren Steadman took a great interception at a vital time and Falcons Black were able to carry the ball down the court and convert this into a goal. With just forty seconds to go, the scores were even and it was a Falcons Black’s centre pass. All four of the Loughborough team’s attacking players remained calm and carried the ball to shooter Helen Hancock. A long distance shot was risky but necessarily and as it went through the net, the Falcons Black bench roared. It was now the defenders time to shine. As the clock counted down, all of the Falcons Black players dug deep and found their last spurts of energy to delay Telstars’ players. It was not over though, Telstars Goal Shooter (GS) had a chance to shoot and as the ball was in the air the umpire’s final whistle was blown. Despite the shot going in, Falcons Black were victorious by one goal.
Final Score: Falcons Black 45-44 Telstars.
Starting seven: Helen Hancock (Goal Shooter, GS), Christie Simpson (Goal Attack, GA), Katie Flaherty (Wing Attack, WA), Hannah Joseph (Centre, C), Sofija Djokic (Wing Defence, WD), Lauren Steadman, (Goal Defence, GD), Jade Forbes-Wattley (Goal Keeper, GK)