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Lancaster University Netball 1st, who are currently second bottom in the league, narrowly lost in a tough fixture against the league leaders, UCLAN. The corresponding away fixture saw UCLAN dominate in a 48-21 victory. The Lancaster team has since been revitalised with all but three players being in their first year. They have won their first three cup matches, but their only league victory came against Chester University in a close 37-30 victory at home.
Lancaster showed their intentions from the start by racing into a 5-0 lead within the first four minutes, two of which came in the first minute. After this strong start, UCLAN found their rhythm and pulled the score back to 5-5. The first quarter ended 10-10, which turned out to be a fair reflection of how the rest of the game would pan out.
The second quarter was the tightest quarter of them all with neither side going more than two points ahead. Lancaster managed to prevent UCLAN from gaining any serious advantage and led 20-19 at half time. As soon as the third quarter began, Lancaster were reinvigorated and flew out of the blocks to score six clear points and prise the lead away from UCLAN. However, UCLAN soon turned this around, in what seemed to be a repeat of the opening quarter. Lancaster appeared to lose concentration towards the end of the third quarter, allowing UCLAN to end leading 34-30. The final quarter was an unbelievably tense affair; Lancaster closed in on several occasions, only to be edged out by UCLAN with less than two minutes to go.
As time went on UCLAN began to gain the upper hand. However, Lancaster were never far behind, consistently bringing the score back to level terms and on occasion edging ahead. The entire game was nip and tuck, end to end, with neither team dominating significant periods; the score could have easily been the reverse. Stand out performances came from goal shooter Claire Riddlestone, who scored many crucial goals, with wing attack Abby Higginbottom – possibly player of the match – playing a pivotal role in numerous attacks, putting in a strong performance throughout the entirety of the game. Goal keeper Josie Tyas put in a dogged performance to prevent UCLAN gaining any significant lead.
Captain Josie Tyas said: “I am very happy with the team’s performance even though it was a defeat, especially after the score the last time the teams met. To end with a respectable score against the league leaders is fantastic and I am proud of the team’s performance. We have changed the team significantly with only three positions not replaced with first years and have worked extremely hard recently in training and it seems to be paying off – this is something we can build on in order to move up the league.”
Lancaster’s next fixture is away at MMU Cheshire in the league. Lancaster have recently beaten that same team in the cup and will be confident before that fixture. The team will also want to continue their winning streak in the cup away at Manchester Metropolitan, their opponents in the next round.