Oldham put in a solid performance in defeating a spirited fellow northern side Oaksway 56-43 in front of a noisy Geordie crowd. Top of the table Oldham made the trip to Hartlepool without vice-Captain and player of the season Rachael Taylor and England Under 21 Beth Cobden, who was out with a knee injury. But on the flip-side they were able to field former England Captain Jade Clarke who is back in England following a stint in the world-leading ANZ league. It was Clarke who led the way to start with three class interceptions in the first quarter that gave Oldham a blistering start and a six goal lead. But Oaksway showed some tough northern grit as they dug deep and got themselves right back in it to just one behind at the first quarter break (12-11)
Oldham made some early tactical changes with Clarke and wing defence Laura Malcolm swapping patches and the experienced Sarah Carter coming on at goal keeper and Emma Dovey moving to goal defence. It paid immediate dividends as Oldham started to dominate the game. Clarke and wing attack Rachel Henry drove the ball through the court while Malcolm, Dovey and Carter did an immense job at the back with the Oaksway attack drying up. Oldham took the quarter 15-7.
With Clarke not having played for six months she was given a rest at half time with Maria McAndrew replacing her at centre. Krista Enziano entered the fray at goal shooter with youngster Alice Travis moving to goal attack. The changes affected Oldham’s flow a little as they initially struggled to work the ball into the circle but they worked through it and took the quarter 13-11.
Oldham’s final changes saw Clarke return to centre with McAndrew moving to wing attack and Webster replacing Carter at goal keeper. Kathryn Turner also returned at goal attack. Oaksway’s never say die attitude kept them in the game and were still within touching distance and were threatening to break down Oldham’s lead. But Oldham, even with a young side, showed great experience and kept them at bay. They also put together some fantastic attacking moves and even had the partisan home crowd applauding.
Coach Debbie Hallas commented: “It was a good performance today, and we showed a lot of character under pressure. I got the whole squad on the court for at least half a game which was good as we had some tired legs following the Mike Greenwood Trophy yesterday.”
“I was particularly impressed with the shooting statistics with consistent shooting from all three shooters, all above 80%. My player of the match today is Emma Dovey, she put in a consistent performance and was key in our defence, coming up with some outstanding interceptions. She won player of the tournament yesterday too, I don’t know what more she has to do to make the England squad but they keep overlooking her.”
Oldham will sit at the top of the table over the Christmas break with a game in hand. Their next game is away to New Cambell of Essex on the 13th of January.
Squad: E Dovey, G Webster, J Clarke, L Malcolm, R Henry, K Turner, A Travis, K Enziano, M McAndrew, S Carter