Oldham finally had Gabby Marshall, Amy Clinton and Iona Darroch back from England U21 duty, which came a welcome boost to coach Debbie Hallas after having a depleted squad since December.
Oldham started strongly, racing out into a lead that would prove insurmountable for the home side, at one point scoring 7 unanswered goals. The Oldham defensive unit of Kerry Almond, Emma Dovey, Marshall and Maria McAndrew were forcing errors from the home side and taking intercepts at will, for Krista Enziano and Kathryn Turner to slot home. Oldham were running things in the first period, with Amelia Hall proving elusive for The Downs defence to catch. Oldham took a 14-7 lead at the break.
The changes were rung at half time with Dovey re-entering the court at WD, Darroch and Clinton at WA and GS respectively and Marshall moving forward to C, giving Hall, Enziano and McAndrew a well-earned break. The changes took a while to settle but when they did Oldham dominated with some superb defensive work and through court attack. Darroch, Turner and Clinton were connecting well and they helped Oldham to take the lead out further to 40-27 heading into the last quarter.
More changes led to more disruption for the away side and they were thankful that they'd built up a good lead. The Downs produced their best netball but Oldham held onto their lead showing experience and determination to take the 5 points and keep their 8 point lead in the league.
Coach Hallas was happy with her team’s performance - “I was really happy with how we executed the first three quarters which put us in a commanding position. I tinkered with the line-up in the final quarter which changed the dynamics and gave some players valuable experience, but we lost some ground which made the result look closer.”
“We look forward to welcoming second placed New Cambell next week which is probably going to be the game of the season. Both of us vying for the title. It will be a great test for our girls.”
Team: GS K Enziano GA K Turner WA A Hall C M McAndrew WD G Marshall GD E Dovey GK K Almond. Bench: A Clinton I Darroch S Armstrong.
Photography credit Steve Porter