Despite question marks over whether the game would go ahead or not due to a last minute venue change, Oldham started brightly matching the home side goal for goal in the opening quarter. Strong defensive pressure from Rachel Henry and Beth Cobden was creating turnover opportunities for the circle pairing of Emma Dovey and Kerry Almond, however, Oldham didn’t take advantage of this and were unable to convert. The quarter ended 14-13 in favour of The Downs.
Coach Debbie Hallas opted to bring Georgie Webster into wing defence and moved Cobden forward to centre. The change made a difference with added height in defence and Oldham won more ball from longer failed feeds into the circle into the home side’s 6'5 shooter. Dovey and Almond were linking well, picking off the wayward feeds. Alice Travis and Kathryn Turner were shooting strongly, offering good movement away from the defensive pressure being placed on them, with good back up being offered from Maria McAndrew on the edge of the circle. Oldham led 26-23 at halftime.
The final quarter produced some of Oldham's best netball of the season, the ball being turned over by the defence and then flowing easily through the court to the shooters, who missed only two of their 17 attempts in the quarter. Almond was working hard at the back to restrict the feeds into the shooter and came up with some fingertip interceptions, ably backed up by Dovey with a few classy takes of her own. Cobden was linking the defence and attack together nicely and Oldham pulled away to take the quarter 15-9 and the game 51-40 overall.
Coach Debbie Hallas commented: “We struggled to get going in the first quarter, the change at the first break helped us with extra height in defence. Georgie Webster gave their wing attack a torrid time. This was our toughest test of the season so far and we held our own until we finally put our foot full on the accelerator pedal in the final quarter. Player of the match today was Kerry Almond with a real captain’s performance at the back, she gave away a lot in height but used all her experience to overcome that.”
Starting 7: GS A Travis GA K Turner WA M McAndrew C R Henry WD B Cobden GD E Dovey GK K Almond. Bench K Enziano & G Webster.
Next week Oldham welcome Oaksway of Hartlepool to Hathershaw Sports Centre.