Manchester Thunder 63 vs Celtic Dragons 52
In their penultimate home match of the regular season Manchester Thunder clashed with Celtic Dragons and were hoping for a more convincing victory than their last tense encounter in Cardiff, were they won by just three goals.
Thunder scored the first goal of the game but with a quick response from The Dragons, it was goal for goal in the early minutes. Both teams battled hard in an attempt to draw clear of their opponents.
However, with a couple of missed shots and stray passes Thunder allowed The Dragons to build up a head of steam and the ball was finding its way to Cato all too often. The final quarter ended 12 – 17 with The Dragons leading.
Thunder Head Coach Tracey Neville made an early change moving Helen Housby to goal shooter and bringing Kathryn Turner on at goal attack, with Enziano going to bench.
A combination of some great pick-ups from loose balls alongside Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey double-teaming the Celtic’s attack allowed Thunder to close down the gap and make it 24 all. Having found their rhythm Turner and Housby continue to capitalise on some opportune moments and at half-time Thunder led 30 – 27.
There were no changes to the team as the game restarted after the half-time break, and with Turner scoring in under 30 seconds of the whistle it seemed like a great decision. Celtic fought back hard in the third quarter to keep the difference to only three goals but in their enthusiasm two of Celtic’s players collided, thankfully both players return to court okay after a short break and are welcomed back by a warm home crowd.
However, there was no respite for them as Beth Cobden and Turner make a great series of hard, fast passes around the edge of the circle until finally a high pass from Malcolm into Housby, who magically gets her fingertips to and safely puts it through the hoop to a huge cheer! At the end of the third quarter, Thunder held onto their lead, 46 – 41.
It was still all to play for in the final quarter and the winning combination of Almond and Dovey continued to thwart Celtic’s attack. It was a real team performance from Thunder, who were hunting the ball in packs in an attempt to turn it over. With only one minute remains on the clock it looks like the game will end with a Celtic’s goal until Almond makes a gravity defying jump to steal the ball and Thunder cleared it down court to confirm their victory. The final score was a well-deserved 63 – 52 victory for Thunder.
Thunder starting 7: GK Almond GD Dovey WD Gibson C Malcolm WA Cobden GA Housby GS Enziano. Bench: Cardwell, Marshall, Travis, Turner, Webster
Celtic Dragons starting 7: GK Myddleton GD Jones WD James C Drane WA Dyke GA Moseley GS Cato. Bench: Bastian, Jones, Llewelyn, Rowe
Report by Isabel Cope
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