Going into 2013, Falcons Black were sitting ninth in the league and at risk of being in the play offs against a team from the division below or even worse, outright relegation to Prem 3. Therefore the players and management went into this Sunday’s game looking for a win or at the very least some points to build on for the remainder of the season (13/01/13).
The first game of the new year was against fourth-placed Linden (a West Midlands-based team) and so Falcons Black knew it was going to be a tough game. However, the East Midlands team also had a greater belief in themselves than at the beginning of the season and were looking for a good start to the game.
The first quarter was played at a fast pace and Falcons Black worked hard to turn the ball although they struggled to capitalise on their successful turn overs. At the defensive end of the court, Goal Keeper (GK) Jade Forbes-Whatley linked well with Dominique McKee who was playing out of position at Goal Defence (GD) and between them, the pair created at least five turn overs during the first fifteen minutes. Despite this Falcons Black finished the first quarter five goals down (7-12).
Unlike with other bad starts to games from earlier in the season, Falcons Black knew that this was a score they could pull back and the team remained the same for the second quarter.
Quarter 2 saw more of the same fast-paced netball, however this time Falcon Black’s attack really took control and punished any mistakes made by Linden. Katie Flaherty (Wing Attack, WA) and Kaylea McQuade (Centre, C) remained calm and safely delivered the ball to their shooters. Linden’s Goal Defence (GD) Lauren Massey (who also plays for the Loughborough Lightning franchise team), upped the pressure in the circle and created several turn overs for the away team. The fifteen minutes were played out with the ball continuously travelling up and down the court and it really was a test of patience and correct decision making that allowed Falcons Black to edge the quarter 11-9 and go in at half time with the score finely poised at 18-21.
Linden made some changes in the 3rd quarter including bringing on some fresh legs at Goal Attack (GA) and moving their Wing Defence (WD) to Centre (C). Falcons Black needed a few minutes to adjust to these changes and to get into the quarter but the players took the lessons they had learnt from the first fifteen minutes and began to play sensible netball. The team worked the ball down to the shooters, Christie Simpson (Goal Attack, GA) and Charlotte Roye (Goal Shooter, GS), who both maintained their high shooting percentages despite being put under huge amounts of pressure by the Linden Defence. After what felt like an incredibly long quarter the Falcons Black players had done themselves proud, scoring the most number of goals per quarter in the game so far to win it 12-10 and now only trail by one (30-31).
Falcons Black made some changes for the last quarter by bringing on Eleanor Durcan at Wing Attack (WA) and moving Katie Flaherty to Centre (C), with player-coach Kaylea McQuade dropping to the bench. The last 15 minutes were always going to be the toughest for the East Midlands team, both physically and mentally but the players started fantastically well, going up 5-0 in the first few minutes. Sofija Djukic worked tirelessly around the circle to add even more pressure to Linden’s Masego Motaung (another Loughborough Lightning player). Both teams went through playing patches of brilliant netball and then through making unnecessary mistakes but the Falcons Black players managed to sneak ahead by one goal with just 30 seconds to go. Linden came back though and scored with 20 seconds left on the clock. The game could have been anybody’s but as it turned out that was the last goal scored. The final whistle blew with the scores matched at Falcons Black 37-37 Linden.
After losing the first quarter by five goals the Falcons Black players had done exceptionally well to bring it back and remain in the game against one of the division’s high-flying teams. The team will next travel to bottom-of-the-table Kent, looking to push on from today’s successes.
Sunday saw the return leg of Leicestershire’s Grasshopper NC (GNC) versus Lincoln City 2 (the Imps). GNC fielded a strong team and some good interactive play between Centre (C) Selina Jones and Wing Attack (WA) Karmen Askew saw them hold Lincoln City 2 until the final minutes of the first quarter, where the Imps crept into a 10-13 lead.
Grasshopper NC’s coach, Anne Melling, made three changes for the second quarter, bringing on Claire Fielding, Kate Garner and newcomer Laura Barby for Karmen Askew, Steph Hiom and young Goal Shooter (GS), Beth Smith. A tightly-fought quarter ensued with GNC coming out 8-6 on top, bringing the score back to 18-19 in Imps’ favour.
At the end of the third quarter, the Lincolnshire team led – but only by 2 goals at 26-28.
The final quarter saw a very spirited effort from Grasshopper NC. The team had trailed throughout the match so far but they never gave up. Some good, hard netball was played by all and it was end to end drama. However, a couple of late goals by the Leicestershire team in the final throes of the match saw Grasshopper NC claim a well-deserved draw, with the score at 39-39.
Grasshopper NC’s Player of the Match went to Centre (C) Selina Jones.
FALCONS YELLOWS LOSE THEIR FIRST MATCH OF 2013 TO SLEAFORD BARGE IN REGIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION II MATCH
Falcons Yellow entered 2013 having not lost a match in the East Midlands Netball Regional League Division II and were hoping to start 2013 with a celebratory win. On paper, Falcons Yellow would have been expected to take control of this match, especially after winning the last meeting between the two teams earlier in the season.
Falcons Yellow put out a reasonably strong and experienced side against a young Sleaford Barge team and the Derbyshire-based club started the game in fine form, turning over Sleaford Barge’s first centre pass. Unfortunately for Falcons Yellow, the team failed to convert their chance and this allowed Sleaford Barge to settle and take an early lead. The Lincolnshire team’s shooting was accurate and this soon left Falcons Yellow 3 goals down. Falcons Yellow then rolled their sleeves up and pulled the deficit back to one goal but unfortunately they couldn’t capitalise on any further turnovers during the quarter because of a solid Sleaford Barge defence. Falcons Yellow’s defence were also on the top of their game but this didn’t stop Sleaford Barge increasing their lead, edging their noses in front 6-10 after the first fifteen minutes.
The second quarter was a different affair. Falcons Yellow made some changes in attack with Rebecca Sims coming on at Wing Attack (WA) and Weller Howard replacing Sarah Bottomley at Goal Attack (GA). Even though it was a new combination the shooters settled well and gave Sleaford Barge something to think about. Falcons Yellow’s defence was again solid at the back with Samantha Brown (Goal Defence, GD), Lynsey Cover (Wing Defence, WD) and Liz Stevenson (Goal Keeper, GK) unsettling the Sleaford attack. This time Falcon Yellow’s turnovers resulted in goals for the team, which were no doubt aided by some great attacking play and feeds into the shooters by Rebecca Sims (Wing Attack, WA) and Laura Owen (Centre, C). Howard and Rolling worked well together too and converted their shots with ease. Falcons Yellow won the quarter 12-8 and went into the half time break with the overall scores even at 18-18. However, they still felt that the score line did not reflect all of the hard work they had put in.
The team made another change for the third quarter by replacing Owen with Melanie Brenan at Centre (C). Falcons Yellow tried in vain to improve on their second quarter performance but were thwarted by Sleaford Barge, who were pressing hard. Both sides made unforced errors but in the end, the Lincolnshire team converted enough of their chances to win the quarter 6-7 and go into the final fifteen minutes with their noses in front once again, leading 24-25 overall.
The final quarter saw Bottomley come on at Goal Shooter (GS) to replace Rolling. Once again it was a tight affair with Falcons Yellow pushing Sleaford Barge all the way. Falcons Yellow’s attack worked hard throughout but the team were still unable to convert their chances and this allowed Sleaford Barge to increase their advantage to 4 goals. It could have been more had it not been for Falcons Yellow’s defence which was outstanding, especially Stevenson’s and Cover’s performances.
Falcons Yellow refused to give up and managed to close the gap to within one goal, however, they just could not get over the finishing line and in the end lost out to a disciplined Sleaford Barge team who widened the overall score line to two goals by winning the quarter 7-8.
The final score was Falcons Yellow 31 – Sleaford Barge 33.
Weller Howard had a great game, as did Melanie Brenan who worked very hard and produced some wonderful feeds throughout the second half but in the end the accolades have to go to Stevenson and Cover who jointly received the ‘Player of the Match’.
Falcons Yellow will still retain top spot but now they have dusted off the cobwebs they will have to work hard and remain focused next week and be ready to do battle in what will be another tough match.
Squad – Charlotte Rolling (GS), Sarah Bottomley (GA/GS), Weller Howard (WA/GA), Laura Owen (C), Lynsey Cover (WD), Samantha Brown (GD), Liz Stevenson (GK), Subs -Melanie Brenan (C), Rebecca Sims (WA).
Pennine needed to win today’s East Midlands Netball Regional League Division 1 match (13/01/13) against Lincoln City 1 in order to boost their chances of staying in the top division.
Pennine started the game well by taking a 3-goal lead at the end of the first quarter. This was extended to 5 goals by half time because of some excellent attacking play all down court and Tyler Bexton’s accuracy in the shooting circle, which earned her the accolade of Pennine’s Player of the Match.
Lincoln City 1 began to fight back during the third quarter though and with a little help from Pennine’s unforced errors, had taken the lead with just three minutes remaining on the clock in the final quarter. Pennine’s Kay Sparkes then made a couple of timely interceptions, which helped her team’s attack regain some composure. The Derby-based team took the lead once more and this time it was not relinquished.
The final score in what turned out to be a very tense game was: Pennine 37 – 35 Lincoln City 1