Much credit must be given to Manchester 3rd’s team as they were promoted into BUCS Northern Conference 2A from last season and will be battling it out against Man Met 1st, Liverpool 1st, Chester 1st and Lancaster 1st.
Wednesday saw the opening game of their 2011/12 league campaign against Liverpool with hopes high as the club as a whole is looking to improve on the achievements from last year.
The first quarter saw immediate pressure from Liverpool’s attacking players who were faster to the ball and quicker at off-loading when in possession. Manchester’s defence seemed a little dazed with Liverpool’s off the ball movement combined with lightening speed passing and were made to pay by clinical shooting, most noticeably from Liverpool’s GA- Kathryn Turner who literally didn’t miss a shot. Manchester did start to make a dent into Liverpool’s lead towards the end of the half when Jade Jarvis (WA) and the shooters started combining well together in the final third of the court with Ashley Sturrock (GS) hitting the target with most success. However Liverpool ended the first quarter with an established 15- 11 lead.
Manchester realised the dominance of Liverpool’s GA and GS (Turner and Baldin) and made a change in defence with Adrianna Winters coming on as GK which had an immediate effect as she harried and pressurised the attackers forcing them into errors in front of the net. Manchester gained confidence from this and there all round game came to life with excellent contributions most noticeably from Jade Jarvis (WA) whose passing and off the ball movement were excellent. Also Ashley Sturrock (GS) performed well in front of goal when given the ball continuing in the same vain from the previous quarter. However Liverpool continued to be clinical in their shooting despite Winters limiting their opportunities and the second quarter saw Manchester trailing 18-24.
The 3rd quarter saw both teams make the tactical decision of swapping their GA’s and GS’s around and Manchester moved the impressive Jarvis to (C) position to maximise her impact in the game. Manchester pushed Liverpool as far as they could making sure that they kept moving forward and getting the ball to Kennedy (GS) and Sturrock (GA) this tactic worked and Kennedy was lethal in front of goal. Liverpool however kept taking their chances which had been the pattern of the game and once again Turner didn’t miss a shot. Liverpool went into the final quarter with a 39-29 lead.
Jarvis had literally run herself into the ground with her battling performance and for the final quarter she was replaced by Jess Maughan who had started the game in (C) position. Liverpool also decided to change their (GA) and (GS) around once again to keep Manchester’s defence guessing. Manchester started the quarter on top and at one stage were only 3 goals behind. But unfortunately it was not to be a nail biting finish as Liverpool’s quality in finishing came through and they comfortably sailed to a 50-37 victory.
Despite the score-line Manchester can take much heart from their performance, the difference on the day was the finishing in front of the net; Liverpool took all their chances whereas Manchester did not. For any viewer it was an exhilarating game to witness and I felt out of breath just watching! Hopefully much can be taken from the game and Captain Fran Goodwin can turn their fortunes around and lead them to victory in their next away clash against Lancaster 1st on 26th October.