Oldham proved hot off the starting block today when they immediately took control of the game leaving Hucclecote's defensive unit a second behind opening up a rally of opportunities to take a 3 goal lead by the end of the first quarter. Whether this was down to the defensive unit not having trained for 2 weeks together, or perhaps Rachel Henry's return to Oldham knowing Hucclecotes style of play will remain to be seen.
Rosie Allison combined with Becky Hemmings showed great flair for Hucclecote and whilst the defence end were trying to get things sorted, it was some great long range shots by Allison and some change of pace and directional movement skills from Hemmings, that kept them close to the game in this all important opening time.
15-12 down, Hucclecote Coach Gilly Salter made some all important decisions in the line-up knowing something had to change. Sarah Lee moved to WD , Kerry Walsh came on to C, and Olivia Beveridge to GA. This quarter instantly demonstrated that these changes were the right ones, with Hucclecote putting enormous pressure defensively on Oldham at the first centre pass. This then led Hucclecote to a rally of 3 goals instantly on the trot levelling the score. With self belief showing, Alison was in tip top form, and during this quarter netted 100%. Beveridge also found her shooting range scoring 6/7 , and with the score in Hucclecotes favour at 25-23 - this was the performance that they should have delivered in the first quarter.
Leaving the squad to settle, Hucclecote continued to score consistently, although errors crept in at this stage, as it had during the latter 5 minutes of the previous quarter. Defensively, Barrett, Gabriel and Lee kept tight on 1:1 and continued to tip, intercept and rebound demonstrated powerful defending . However in attack, from centre down through to the circle, accuracy of passes began to drift, lifted balls began to fly and Oldham rose to the challenge to hold this quarter even at 10 goals each, leaving the score at 35-33 at the 45 minute mark.
One change saw Beveridge replaced with Gemma Gray back on, and for the first few minutes the movement and error rate were well reduced with Kerry Walsh really taking control through mid court. With a home crowd on their side, and with outstanding umpiring from Gary Burgess and Sarah Weston, the game was allowed to flow at speed. With the smell of victory in the air, Hucclecote's composure and determination to take the 5 points continued, with joint player of the match being award to Rosie Allison for outstanding shooting scoring 82.5%, and to Becky Hemming whose work rate, turning on a sixpence and re-offering just never failed to open opportunites for her attack. At the final whistle, Hucclecote had increased their 2 goal lead to 4 , winning 47-43. However, Oldham should be proud of the game they brought to Hucclecote as the game really wasnt over until the last blow of the whistle.
Although Hucclecote were well prepared there is more work to do defensively, and for Coach Gilly Salter, this has to the focus for their next session.
Squad; R. Allison, G Gray, O Beveridge, B, Hemming S. Lee, K. Walsh, S.Cook, J.Gabriel, R. Barrett
Stats: R. Alison 38/46 82.5% G. Gray 2/6 33% O. Beveridge 7/9 77.5%