The latest from the Prem.
Round 15 – 16 February 2020
League leaders Oldham faced a tough match at home to local rivals Tameside. As with derbies in most sports current form can go out the window and the result can depend on who wants it more on that derby day. It was a very intense start as both sides traded goals to leave the first quarter all square at 9-9. The second quarter started in similar fashion but with the scores locked at 15-15 Tameside took their chance when it presented itself to take a 18-15 lead, by half time Oldham had managed to pull one goal back leaving Tameside going into the half time break leading 18-16. As would be expected Oldham gradually pulled themselves level at 21-21 then assumed the lead, 24-21 but this time it was Tameside who clawed things back to leave the three quarters score still locked, 25-25. The all important and all to play for final fifteen minutes could not have started any better for Tameside as they stormed into a 30-25 lead. Was an upset on the cards? Oldham gradually started to pull things back, they were within a point, 30-31 before another break gave the visitors a 33-31 lead. With the clock counting down Oldham pulled things around again, this time they took a lead, 34-33 with just 20 seconds left. Enough time for Tameside? There sure was, a goal to tie the game 34-34. This is what derby matches are all about, a great result for Tameside, not a disaster for Oldham by any stretch but New Cambell and Academy would be looking to capitalise on dropped Oldham points……
On paper it looked like both second place New Cambell and third placed Academy would be closing the gap on top spot as they both faced tams in the bottom three of the league, and both were on home courts. New Cambell welcomed Weston Park Blades to Dagenham and, in truth, Blades away form had been disappointing with only one of their four wins recorded on the road. It started off like that was set to continue with New Cambell holding a 15-11 lead coming towards the end of the first period. But three goals without reply gave them a bit of momentum as they went into the second quarter just one goal down, 14-15. They carried it on as well and by half time Blades had taken the advantage away from the home side to lead by four, 32-28. A tremendous sounding second half saw New Cambell do all they could to pull Blades back but at the final whistle Blades had hung on, by the slimmest of margins, to take the win 54-53, a win that looks to have given them some much needed breathing space at the foot of the table as they move up to seventh whilst for New Cambell it could be a devastating blow in their bid to catch Oldham as they now sit nine points behind them in third. Round 17 however does see New Cambell travel to face Oldham…..
So could Academy make the most of the New Cambell slip up and the Oldham tie? They faced a Leeds Athletic side who sat in ninth spot having lost their last three. Once again storms had battered the UK and Leeds were one of a number of teams who battled through awful conditions to get to their fixture, fantastic efforts by so many players to get these fixtures played on time. It was a tough day for Leeds however as Academy who have been on a great run for the best part of the season chalked up another impressive performance to take the match 57-37 and move into second, two points ahead of New Cambell and seven behind Oldham.
Hucclcote and Grangetown have been swapping fourth and fifth spots fairly regularly the past few rounds. Hucclecote currently held the fourth spot as they hosted a Turnford side still looking over their shoulders at the relegation spots but buoyed by a crucial win over Leeds Athletic last time out. This was a tighter game than many would have expected but eventually it went the way of the hosts as Hucclecote ran out 50-47 winners. With Turnford and Leeds Athletic both suffering defeat a win for Cumberland would move them off the bottom of the table. Their long trip to the North East to face Grangetown was never going to be easy however and at quarter time the hosts led 19-14. A superb effort from Cumberland saw them go into the half time break all square at 32-32 but the third period saw Grangetown take the lead again, going into the final quarter they led by eight points, 53-45. Another convincing fifteen minutes gave Grangetown the win by 71-57. Cumberland’s home match against Turnford in a couple of rounds time could decide their fate this season…..
With Storm Dennis giving the UK all that he could throw at us the decision was taken in advance to postpone already promoted YWCA Bury’s long trip to the south coast to face Sussex Thunder. Attention therefore shifted its main focus to second place Linden’s journey to face third placed Ryland. A win for the visitors would all but ensure League 1 Netball next season, a defeat would keep things interesting until the end of the season. Ryland have been quietly going about their business this season, chalking up impressive results along the way that have given them still a chance for promotion. This was their chance to keep that interest alive and how they made the most of that chance as in what sounds like a pulsating match they took the valuable win by 41-38. That result still leaves them eight points behind Linden but another defeat for the second placed side could make things very interesting indeed. Linden are still clear favourites, this was only their third defeat of the season and the other two were against Bury, next up they face fourth paced Oaksway.
Oaksway faced fifth paced Team Bath Toucans at home and were looking to get revenge for their 72-58 away defeat earlier in the season. It was a tight first period which Oaksway took 18-15 before they opened up a bigger lead by half time, 41-32. A great effort from the visitor saw the gap close to 54-51 and in the final quarter Bath drew level but Oaksway pulled it out of the bag with a strong last five minutes to take the win 71-63, shooter Alice Levitt putting in a POM performance to see her side home.
Worcester Reds faced Telstars with the teams neck and neck in mid table, both needing probably one more win to see them absolutely safe. Reds lost a close game last time out whilst Telstars match was postponed (now to be played 15 March at home to Premier Romans). The hosts took the first period 13-8 and extended that lead by half time to 28-15. Telstars edged a close third period 8-7 but a strong finish from Worcester saw them take the match 48-35. They mow sit in sixth place, just one point behind fifth placed Team Bath Toucans.
The big match at the foot of the table saw ninth place The Downs travel west to face Premier Romans. The hosts have been on a good run winning three of their last four to give them more than a fighting chance of getting out of trouble. The Downs meanwhile have only won one of the last seven but that win came last time out and was a crucial win against relegation rivals Sussex Thunder. Well, The Downs pulled another win against a fellow struggler out the bag with a fantastic 68-50 win that puts them three points ahead of Romans in eighth spot but both teams below them have a game in hand.
Not for the first time League 3 is fascinating at the moment with just seven points separating second from fifth. Leaders Charnwood entertained sixth placed Clan who recorded a single point away win last time out. Charnwood know how close they are to promotion and a convincing 74-39 victory puts them within one win of promotion as they sit twelve points above third spot with just three to play. For Thoroughbreds promotion will not be that straightforward. They have to keep winning and the pressure from the teams in third, fourth and fifth mean that a slip up could prove fatal. This was especially true for this match as they travelled to Kent to face third placed Eclipse who could, with a win, take over second spot. Yet again a battle between second and third lived up to expectations as Thoroughbreds just edged out their hosts by one point, how many one point victories have there been this season, this one 45-44. Thoroughbreds have two home matches in a row to play next before ending the season away…..to Charnwood!
Whilst defeat meant Eclipse stayed third it was the chance for fourth placed Exeter, who had lost last time out, to close the gap again. They welcomed TFC Leicester who sit in ninth spot to Devon with the visitors knowing that anything other than a win would as good as condemn them to the playoffs. The match went with form as Exeter emerged with a confident 69-36 victory, two points behind Eclipse and just six behind Thoroughbreds. One place and one further point back sit Norfolk United courtesy of a fine away victory over BSV Billericay by a close call, 61-56.
Leyton who had slipped to eighth after a poor run got back to winning ways with a 52-32 away win at Essex Open which puts them a point behind seventh place BSV Billericay and just two points behind sixth placed Clan.
None of the top five play each other in the next round but some key games in the last two rounds will go a long way to sorting out just who grabs that second promotion spot. Eclipse face both Charnwood and Exeter whilst Thoroughbreds face Charnwood………
Until next time