Loughborough Lightning kept their phenomenal Vitality Netball Superleague winning streak alive as they edged out Manchester Thunder by a single goal to make it 11 from 11.
Travelling north to Manchester, Lightning were sitting pretty at the top of the league, but taking on third placed Thunder they knew they’d be in for a stern test, which ultimately went right to the wire.
Thunder were keen to reverse an away defeat earlier in the season and having won eight on the bounce themselves, they looked more than up to the task.
Racing out of the blocks the team in yellow were quickly three goals to the good, before Loughborough University student Peace Proscovia got Lightning off the mark, having been a prolific taliswoman all season.
The team in purple soon found their rhythm though and before too long were 5-8 in front, but it was Thunder who finished the quarter strongest and with a two goal advantage.
Ella Clark was on for Loughborough University alumna Vanessa Walker at the start of the quarter, and she linked up with Proscovia well to keep the Lightning goals coming.
Lightning were turning over the ball well further down the court through the likes of Beth Codben and University student Vicki Oyesola, but Thunder were also in good form and maintained their slender lead at half-time.
Walker returned at goal attack at the start of the second half, with Lightning having listened intently to an animated Karen Atkinson at half-time.
Whatever was said seemed to do the trick, Walker and Proscovia linking up seamlessly to score time and time again. In fact it was a similar story to the rest of the season, with Lightning crushing their opposition in the third quarter, as they have done time and time again in 2017.
Every credit must go to the defensive line though, Jo Trip and Oyesola formidable inside their own circle, whilst captain Nat Panagarry, now playing at goal defence, was turning over plenty of ball. Momentum Lightning.
Starting the final quarter with their fate in their own hands, Lightning looked composed but Thunder perhaps looked the more dangerous.
At one point 10 goals behind, soon Thunder were using the home crowd advantage and pulling ever closer to set up a nail-biting finale.
The drama continued right until the final few seconds, when Thunder thought they’d equalised on the buzzer, but it was deemed a fraction too late. That allowed Lightning to snatch a narrow one point victory and stretch their unbeaten run to eleven.
Of the Lightning performance Head Coach Karen Atkinson said:
“I’m unbelievably proud of the girls tonight, pulling through away at one of our biggest rivals. They showed tremendous character to grind out the win and can take a lot of confidence heading into our showcase game against Wasps next weekend.
“Despite having won eleven games in a row we still have things to work on, as we look to secure our place in The Final Four where we want to be playing our best netball of the season.”
Tickets for Lightning’s next home game against Wasps, to be played at the Riders Arena in Leicester on Saturday 29th April are still available at http://loughboroughsport.com/loughborough-lightning/fixturesandresults/