Hucclecote gave a gutsy performance particularly during the final 15 minutes of their match against Oldham however it was not gutsy enough to enable them to take the points and they eventually lost out by 6 goals.
Oldhams performance a week earlier had seen them score 58 goals and Hucclecote knew that defensively they would have to be on song to stop a talented Oldham shooting circle as well as trying to convert each and every opportunity.
The starting line up saw the usual combination with Pretorius at GK, Gabriel at GD with Iffil taking the starting WD bib and Nic James at C. Whilst Hucclecote showed some quick release movements through court, it was Oldham who dominated and although Hucclecote’s defence worked tirelessly, Oldhams shooting circle took control with their shooter netting 100% and converting 9/9 attempts in this quarter.
At this stage it was Hucclecote’s attack who took care of the ball and with Neala Brennan once against showing her power through to the circle edge and Gemma Gray on song Hucclecote matched Oldham with the same opportunities at goal but ended up just 1 goal down at quarter time.
Sammi Perry made her debut during the second quarter coming on at GD, with Gabriel switching across to WD and Laura Smith replacing James at Centre. Whilst the first 5 minutes slowed down the Oldham shooting circle, it didn’t take Oldham long to work things out, and soon they were back on track creating more opportunities than Hucclecote to score goals finding their GS with ease. Laura Smith’s introduction at centre saw some well timed drives to the circle edge for Cote and Gray continued to score consistently netting 5/6. However, with error rate creeping up, and missed shots creeping in Hucclecote were only able to score 50% of their attempts 6/12. In addition, where Cote’s normal game would have seen them turn over much ball, there were only 2 intercepts during the whole of the first half! Attempts to shoot goals at this stage in the game went in Oldhams favour who had put up a huge 23/30 (with their GS having had 21 attempts) compared to Hucclecotes 16/25 leaving Cote trailing by 7 goals at half time.
Cote needed to try something different and switched Cook to GA and Gray into GS and decided to switch Pretorius with Perry to try to unsettle the Oldham shooting routine. This worked immediately and defensively for the first time Hucclecote pressured Oldham with the GS reduced to just 8 attempts in one quarter. Whilst defensively Hucclecote began to dominate a battle emerged in the shooting circle and when the going got tough, it just got worse. Hucclecote were unlucky with held ball being pressured on numerous occasions, which the umpires didn’t blow, and the final straw was when Cook was taken out whilst going for an arial ball by her GD and landed on the floor but no decision was given much to the amazement of the bench and supporters. Following on from this the confidence levels dipped with Hucclecote only netting 11/18 during this 15 minute period leaving Oldham 36-27 up.
The final quarter saw Gabriel pushed back across to GD and Kerry Walsh fresh on at WD. Nic James moved back onto WA and Brennan switched roles to GA with Gray behind her. At 9 goals down, Hucclecote put out a determined effort with captain Jack Gabriel on fire, finding the zone and in this one quarter taking 3 clean intercepts alone. This lifted the squad and Hucclecote’s attacking line up began to give and go as we know they can. Brennan made the impact required earning her player of the match, and took on the GA bib with dominance and netted 6/8 (75%) during this quarter. With 6 clean turnovers and 2 clean rebounds Hucclecote began to close the 9 goal deficit and showed what they are made of, but ran out of time losing by 43-37.
This was a disappointing performance in parts and the Cote squad know they have some work to do however credit must be given to a well drilled Oldham side, many of whom have played together for some years. Both teams really had equal opportunities with Oldham netting 43/62 (69%) and Hucclecote 37/58 (64%), and this is therefore encouraging in many ways to know that this level of ball through to the shooting circle is being created, particularly with Hucclecote trying out new combinations. It’s now about individual confidence and self belief that they can change these results during the reverse match in the second half of the season.
Squad: S Cook, G Gray, N Brennan (Player of the Match), N James, L Smith, K Walsh, H Thompson, M, Iffil, J Gabriel, R Pretorius, S Perry ,
Bench: G Salter (Coach) C Hallbrook (Assistant) S Wanwright (Team Manager) J Lambert (Physio),B Warburton (Scorer) L Thomas (Scorer) R Hallbrook (Stats)
Shooting:- S Cook 11/22 50% G Gray20/28 71% N Brennan 6/8 75%