Last gasp penalty snatches draw for York

UNIVERSITY OF YORK 48 – 48 NORTHUMBRIA UNIVERSITY

Images: Agatha Torrance

A last gasp penalty by York goal shooter Emma Loft snatched a draw for York’s netballers in what was an incredibly close and tense game in the Sports Tent today. Stand out performances from Loft and goal attack Georgia Neblett ensured York were continually within reach of their Northumbrian opponents throughout the match.

York took the lead early on in the first quarter through Neblett after they displayed their dominance with some slick build up play, pressuring their opposition excellently. But Northumbria proved to be more than up for the challenge and quickly pulled back two goals to put them on level pegging. Neblett appeared to be in fine form when she scored from a very tricky distance and there were even more promising signs for York as lovely interplay between Neblett and Loft in the circle edged them into the lead.

York continued to shoot brilliantly throughout the first quarter and were supported strongly by the always impressive Charlotte Ferris and Bronwen Dalley-Smith. Fouls were costly for Northumbria in the first quarter and York were able to capitalise on this and go into the break 13-9 ahead.

Northumbria came back strongly in the second quarter however, despite some great work from goal defense Lucy Daymond and goal keeper Lottie Knight. Ferris was in top form as she charged down an interception to keep York steadfastly in the match. Northumbria’s comeback still wasn’t enough for them to pull away as York’s shooters maintained their good form to take every opportunity that came their way. Center Holly Dixson allowed York to come up with some very creative and slick passing to back up both Neblett and Griffiths efforts.

Things could not have been more tense by the end of the second quarter with the score at 23-24, with Northumbria barely in front. As they entered the third quarter both sides scrapped for the lead, with never more than a point separating them. Neblett snatched back possession to allow Loft to score and equalise, but Northumbria came back yet again to steal the lead.

York continued to keep Northumbria within their sights due to some superb defensive work from Daymond and Knight who pressured the Northumbria shooters brilliantly. Ferris backed up her teammates yet again to force Northumbrian errors. York’s determination and unrelenting attitude led them into the fourth quarter only a point shy with the scores at 36-37.

An injury to Lucy Daymond was a blow to York’s chances early in the fourth quarter as she had been excellent all game. It only served to make matters even more tense as the back and forth nature of the match proved unbearable to watch. York squeezed ahead late on and extended their precarious lead to 42-40 through Loft. Northumbria battled their way back into the game however and the scores reached a tantalising 45 all.

Pressure mounted in the dying minutes as the toing and froing led the scores to 47-48 in favour of Northumbria. York scrambled to get the ball to their end of the court and Knight and substitute Grace Clarke combined to deny Northumbria any chance of increasing their lead.

As the last ten seconds of the match approached, Loft was fouled by her Northumbrian opponent and was awarded a penalty shot in the perfect position in front of the net. The tension was palpable as she lined up to shoot, but considering her form throughout the match the spectators needn’t have worried as she scored with ease to earn York a hard fought draw.

An ecstatic and relieved captain Nina Pullman commented after the game, “That was incredibly, incredibly tense and in the last ten seconds we had a penalty and I can’t explain how happy I am about that, we’re so well matched. We obviously had a weakened team, we had one injury and our starting goal attack was ill, I’m still injured. We’re three down from our starting seven so I’m incredibly, incredibly happy”.