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Loughborough Lightning's Rachel Sweet in action.

Lightning unable to stop top of the league Thunder

Loughborough Lightning are sitting fourth in the table after a loss at the hands of table toppers Manchester Thunder. You can read their post-match summary below:

Despite a valiant effort, Loughborough Lightning were unable to stop Manchester Thunder’s unbeaten run after a 47-56 loss at home in front of a thousand strong crowd.

The ladies in purple secured their first victory of the back-to-back home games against Celtic Dragons on Saturday and looked to make their mark against Thunder. The atmosphere was electric inside the Sir David Wallace Arena, Loughborough University, as both teams took to the court. The game was also covered live by Sky Sports as part of their Super League coverage.

Lightning were quick to draw first blood putting goals on the board, and Lauren Nicholls’ fantastic interception in the first minute of the game prevented an early Thunder goal. Both sides were evenly matched in the first five minutes of the game, with Ama Agbeze at goal defence keeping the away team at bay.

Peace Proscovia asserted herself as a key asset of Lightning’s offense as she put away goal after goal. Meanwhile, at wing attack, previous player of the match Hannah Joseph started off where she finished last week with fantastic link-up plays giving Proscovia and Vanessa Walker every opportunity possible.

Thunder’s intensity was unforgiving throughout the first quarter though, with the scoreline soon going in their favour 7-11 with two minutes to go. Joseph and Proscovia’s chemistry on the court was clear when it came to mounting pressure on Thunder’s defence. A couple of last minute goals from Loughborough University student Vanessa Walker put Lightning back in contention at the end of the first quarter with the scoreboard reading 10-12.

The second quarter opened up with a flurry of goals and Lightning on the attack. In the first five minutes of the second quarter, the girls in purple had managed to equalise 14-14.

Centre and captain Jade Clarke was the focal point of Thunder’s physical pressure but managed to maintain Lightning’s discipline. It was evident from the first two quarters that there was a marked improvement in the Lightning side since their game against Celtic Dragons last week.

Every time Thunder began to run away with the lead, Lightning were quick to answer and level the scoreline. As the first half entered the final two minutes, an injury to Nicholls forced her off the court with Natalie Panagarry taking her place. Thunder began to edge clear and by the end of the second quarter were leading 19-26, with seven of those goals receiving no reply from the Loughborough side.

HT: Loughborough Lightning 19 – 26 Manchester Thunder

The second half opened up with domination from the Thunder side, and within the first five minutes of the half they had a nine-point lead over Lightning. Hard work from Walker and Joseph improved Lightning’s chances of a comeback, with Proscovia securing the goals. On the defensive side, Jo Trip and Ama Agbeze were eager to disrupt any attack by the Thunder girls. In three minutes, Lightning managed to close the gap from a nine goal difference to four as Thunder’s errors began to creep up. However, the Lightning side wasn’t able to keep the away team at bay as Thunder began to move away again as the third quarter ended 35-42. Hannah Joseph was substituted for Lauren Nicholls.

Tensions ran high on the court as the fourth and final quarter started with a Lightning offensive. Clarke ensured possession for her side as Walker secured the goals. Soon after, Proscovia delivered several goals for the girls in purple. With the scoreline wavering on a four-point difference, the huge crowd’s excitement grew with every pass. Panagarry and Nicholls worked to pressure Thunder’s offensive plays but were unfortunately unable to get the win with the last three minutes of the game slipping away from Lightning.

FT: Loughborough Lightning 47 – 56 Manchester Thunder

Post-game, Head Coach Karen Atkinson said:

“That was so much better than Saturday. We talked in the changing rooms about just showing the type of team we want to be, so showing real fight and determination. We knew it was going to be ridiculously tough but to put ourselves in a position where we could have won the game is really good.

“Now we just need to learn to finish off crucial passages of play and not let them back into the game, because they’ll just take the ball down the other end of the court.”

Jo Trip, player of the match, had this to say:

“I wasn’t too happy with my game on Saturday, so I went back, reflected, and came out all guns firing. In fact, we all had to go back and reflect and have accountability personally, as Karen and Liv can only do so much as coaches – once we’re out on the court its up to us girls.”

Lightning are back in action at home on the 27th of February as they take on Surrey Storm. Get your tickets to that game, which is also at home at the David Wallace Sports Arena here: www.loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/tickets

Team Sheet

Starting Seven:
GK – Jo Trip
GD – Ama Agbeze
WD – Lauren Nicholls
C – Jade Clarke ©
WA – Hannah Joseph
GA – Vanessa Walker
GS – Peace Proscovia

Substitutes
Brittany Coleman
Harriet Gill
Lauren Massey
Natalie Panagarry
Rachel Sweet