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Lightning struck out at the Thunderdome

Manchester Thunder gave Loughborough Lightning a difficult game away at the Thunderdome as they won 61-51.

Lightning played host to Manchester Thunder on the 15th of February at the start of the season, where the away team won 56-47. Lightning currently sit at the middle of the table following last week’s defeat to Surrey Storm.

Read the Lightning match report below:

The Thunderdome was full of excitement as home team Thunder took first centre pass, with their first attempt at goal stolen by Jo Trip. Natalie Panagarry and Hannah Joseph moved the ball up court for Vanessa Walker to score Lightning’s first of the half. Captain Ama Agbeze was quick to respond to a turnover ball and the possession was quickly returned to Lightning. Thunder’s defensive players were keen to disrupt goal shooter Peace Proscovia and put her under immense pressure in the first quarter of the game. Lauren Nicholls was hot on her opposite player in this quarter, looking to create issues for Thunder’s offensive plays.

Thunder took the lead early as the first five minutes ended 5-3 to the home team. Trip was ferocious in her positon at goal keeper, intercepting twice in the first quarter and providing her offensive players with possession. Lightning worked tirelessly to keep level with Thunder as the home side enjoyed a three-goal lead for the first ten minutes of the quarter. Proscovia found her feet with five minutes to go in the quarter as she began to put away goals for Lightning to bring the score equal 9-9. Thunder soon took the lead once again, but a patient Lightning side maintained their composure. The first quarter ended 13-13.

On-court chemistry was clear between Agbeze and Trip as they sought to counter their experienced opposite players. Panagarry took the first centre pass of the second quarter with Joseph fast off the mark in what would be an intense and fast-paced quarter. Proscovia was once again under the pressure of Thunder’s defensive players who took the first of many interceptions from Lightning hands. Panagarry was a stand out player in this quarter as she was relentless in marking her opposite player. Thunder extended their lead to 19-15 with ten minutes to go of the half, with several ball handling errors worrying the Lightning side.

 Thunder’s pace across the court was hugely impressive and soon their lead was extended to six-goals. Lightning’s errors at the shooting was quickly becoming an issue as they racked up contact calls. Agbeze was quick to respond to Thunder’s botched shooting opportunities, providing key possession for her team to claw their way back up the scoreboard. A caution was given to a Thunder player for delaying the play with three minutes to go. Thunder led a seven-goal difference, yet Lightning’s resolve never wavered as they fought to equalise.  

 HT: Manchester Thunder 30 – 25 Loughborough Lightning

 Both teams took to the court after an exciting first half, with Lightning intent on equalising. No changes came for either side at halftime. Walker had a great start to the quarter and scored Lightning’s first of the half. Captain Agbeze’s aggression was well matched by her partner Trip in the shooting circle, but multiple contact calls against them meant that Thunder were able to extend their lead. Panagarry and Walker had a great long ball play to Joseph to provide Proscovia with the ball; Lightning’s resolve seemed even greater after their halftime discussion with their experienced coaches.   

Lightning managed to bring goal difference down to two points with eight minutes to go in the third quarter 36-34, with excitement in the aptly named Thunderdome reaching a crescendo. Both teams played with patience and discipline throughout the game, with the crowd enjoying a show of exciting netball. The pace of the game seemed to dip in the final minutes of the third quarter. Kadeen Corbin switched on for Walker, rejuvenating the side for an important final quarter. A fantastic interception by Airey, brought on for Trip, was a hugely impressive first play for the goal keeper. The game took a physical turn as the substitutions for both sides brought a new energy to the court.

The third quarter ended 47 –38, with Lightning’s revitalised strength threatening to upset Thunder’s plays. Panagarry was a huge credit to the Lightning side as the centre third became challenging, charging down the ball of each Thunder pass. Airey at goal keeper was also keen to prove herself and worked well alongside Agbeze. Thunder were in a comfortable nine-goal lead with ten minutes to go of the game. Nicholls performed well in the final quarter, putting huge pressure on her opposite player as she marked Thunder’s WA relentlessly. Corbin’s confidence at shooting, combined with Proscovia’s impressive reach, meant that Lightning were never too far behind despite the nine-goal lead by the host side.

 Nicholls took an injury to the ankle in the sixth minute of the quarter, with Lauren Massey coming on to replace her. The momentum seemed to be all Thunder as they dominated the final ten minutes of the game, with Lightning putting in a valiant effort to shorten their lead. Massey put away an impressive long ball to Joseph, but were unable to capitalise on the goal. Tremendous link-up play between Agbeze and Joseph came with three minutes to go in the quarter. Thunder would take the hard earned victory after a challenging performance by Lightning.

 FT: Manchester Thunder 61 – 51 Loughborough Lightning

 Loughborough Lightning will be in action on Monday 11th April at home in the Sir David Wallace Arena, Loughborough University. You can buy tickets for Lightning’s last two home games here: http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/

Starting Seven:

GK – Jo Trip

GD – Ama Agbeze ©

WD – Lauren Nicholls

C – Natalie Panagarry

WA –  Hannah Joseph

GA – Vanessa Walker

GS – Peace Proscovia