On Saturday (3 November), the East Midlands premier netball team, Loughborough Lightning, hosted a strengthened Team Northumbria side in its first home game of the Cooperative Superleague season.
With three players away at the World Championships until January, Lightning had to work at building new partnerships on the court.
Taking place in Loughborough University’s Sir David Wallace Sports Hall in front of an expectant home crowd, Lightning started the game well with quick hands and fast effective moves. Goal Shooter, Alex Astle, held Team Northumbria’s Goal Keeper well and with some accurate feeding from the circle Loughborough appeared firmly in the game. At the end of the first quarter Lightning were just 1 goal down at 11-10
The second quarter saw Team Northumbria using long balls together with aggressive defending in centre court. Lightning failed to penetrate its own attacking third and by half time the home team were down by three, 21-18.
Changes at half time saw Loughborough Student Lauren Doyle replace Lisa Stephenson in Goal Attack, Natasha Hampshire move to Wing Attack and full time Coach, Olivia Murphy, take her place in centre court. The changes worked extremely well with the new shooting partnership creating accurate shots and exciting play throughout the court. Lightning’s defence restrained its opponent’s shooters to make the score tied at the end of the third quarter, 31-31.
For the final quarter Northumbria switched their shooters, which rewarded the team with greater shooting opportunities. Northumbria was able to close Lightning down in its attacking third and the home team failed to capitalise on the few shooting opportunities that arose, enabling Team Northumbria to take the game by 2 goals, final score 38-36.
Team Coach Olivia Murphy said, “We played well, but the pressure got to us and we panicked. We don’t intend to let it happen again and are really pleased our next game is next week, we want to get straight back in there and get another win.”
She continued, “We face Northern Thunder, away next week. They beat the Celtic Dragon’s last weekend, so we will have a serious game on our hands, but we are up to the challenge.”
Loughborough Lightning’s next home game is on 26th November against current holders of the Superleague title, Team Bath. It’s guaranteed to be an exciting game as Lightning fight for their place at the top of the Superleague, so make sure you get your ticket early.
Tickets are available in advance on the ticket hotline, Tel: 01509 226250, or through the website: www.loughboroughlightning.com or on the door at the Sir David Wallace Sports Hall. At £5 a ticket for adults and £3 for concessions, the game works out as a bargain priced night out for all.
FRANK UIJLENBROEK WORLDSPORTPICS