Hucclecote struggled to assert themselves in the first quarter of the game, which ultimately lost them the match allowing Linden to take victory by just 2 goals.
Hucclecote Capt Jackie Gabriel was still carrying injury although did take the court in the first quarter, However the pain was evident to watch and she was unable to challenge and turn ball , one of the key strengths of her game. Whilst defensively Hucclecote were slow to start, the attacking end also struggled to take the ball to their shooters giving limited shooting opportunites, and this wasnt helped with a poor conversion rate of 50% during the first quarter.
With the return of Anna Mayes back in her Hucclecote stripe, Coach Gilly Salter made changes moving Sam Cook to Goal Defence replacing the injured Jackie Gabriel, Olivia Beveridge taking on the GS bib, and Anna Mayes came on at Centre. These changes certainly had the desired effect with some swift fast movement on offer particularly between Gemma Gray and Beveridge in the shooting circle, and combined with the squads quick release passing, confidence lifted and Beveridge netted 78% of her shots during her first 15 minutes on court leading to a half time score of 17-25.
With Hucclecote's confidence lifted, and the experience of Mayes bringing ball through and linking ends well, the third quarter started in Hucclecote's favour as they slowly began to claw back the defecit. However the error rate was still too high and they had over 8 converted attempts to take the ball to goal to finish it off but failed to do so. Sam Cook at GD had the best game of her season so far, and really stepped up to the challenge taking numerous intercepts and rebounds keeping her team in with the chance they needed, justly deserving the named Player of the Match. The 3rd quarter period ended 34-28 with Hucclecote having closed the gap to just 6 goals leaving the final quarter with everything to play for.
Hucclecote certainly raised the bar and showed what they were made of with all 7 players on court giving their all. With Beveridge out to GA and Allison back on at Shooter, the sniff of belief saw them close the gap to within one goal with a minute remaining. Hucclecote had 3 attempts during this period to take it and convert it but the pressure this brought and with Linden fighting back , Hucclecote lost their final chance to equalise and Linden scored off this in the final seconds of the game with Hucclecote losing the game 39-37.
Whilst Hucclecote can take credit for winning the 2nd half, and showed true grit and determination, it was their 2nd narrow loss against a top flight club and they now need to work out a strategy for coping with the pressure when the score-line is so close. It was certainly a much better performance overall, with the return of Anna Mayes definately being a huge bonus in this competitive to the wire game.
Squad: R Allison , G Gray, O Beveridge, B Hemming, S Cook, S Lee, S Cook, R Barrett, A Mayes
Allison 65% Gray 60% Beveridge 76%
Team Bench Support. Kerry Walsh Sue Waiwright and Barbara Warburton