Another home game for Lightning and the rivals fellow top-four London Pulse to the Sir David Wallace Arena. Lightning and Pulse are level on points after 7 games played with both teams having only one loss in the league and so came into the game looking to climb the table. The arena started to fill up with excited fans ahead of centre pass, as both teams seemed strong in the warm-up and morale was high.
Straight from the centre pass came immediate high intensity of play from both Lightning and Pulse with both teams battling hard. Pulse attacked quickly calling upon the trustworthy Lightning defence of Fran Williams and Alice Harvey early in the quarter. The Pulse attack capitalised on space in the Lightning's defensive third to create goal-scoring chances.
Lightning decided to use long passes over the top of Pulse’s defence to secure goals from Cholhok. Later in the first half, Lightning came back with a flurry of goals from Cholhok and Dixon as Joseph also worked tirelessly in the central third to win the ball back for her team. Pulse played wide and passed out to their free players to feed the ball into the attacking third and increase the score. The second quarter looked to be an interesting one with intensity and determination emanating from the court.
Q1: Loughborough Lightning 12 – 10 London Pulse
The high tempo of the game continued and didn’t disappoint as Joseph and Dixon intercepted in the centre court to start another Lightning attack to bring a lead. Lightning battled against Pulse’s relentless attack with Odeogberin's interceptions lead to several long passes to Cholhok adding more goals to her already enormous tally. Pulse relented against Lightning’s confidence in play and continued to play the ball wide and fast on the court opening areas of space that warranted a forceful attack.
Two changes were seen in the second quarter for Lightning as Dixon became wing-attack and Joseph headed for centre and Emma Thacker entered the court at goal-attack. These changes to the team brought confidence and resilience to play to regain the lead and sustain the positive build-up play.
Q2: Loughborough Lightning 21 – 25 London Pulse
Lightning entered the third quarter four goals down but with a further two substitutes Vic Burgess made all efforts to boost team energy and secure the win. Zan Vimbela entered the court in replacement of Alice Harvey as goalkeeper to join the defensive unit. Also, Odeogberin exited at wing defence for Lauren Nicholls and both changes instantly affected Lightning’s run of play and provided a confidence boost.
Fran Williams continued to be a strong defensive barrier for Lightning against Pulse’s attack and movement as Williams intercepted the play and fired the ball to Thacker to halt Pulse’s momentum. Pulse’s shooters were confident however Lightning managed to move and pass with determination as Thacker and Odeogberin negotiated the. court space well for a successful string of passes. Williams implemented a confident tone through her communication to all players on her team to give Lightning the upper hand on the upcoming attack.
Q3: Loughborough Lightning 36 – 38 London Pulse
The excitement built into the third round with yet another change seeing Bella Baylis take centre court for Hannah Joseph after a half of prolonged strength and interceptive play. Lightning adopted Pulse’s strategic play and used the width of the court to send the ball from defence to attack and Dixon’s interception wins Lightning's possession. Baylis made the most of her time on the court and supplied Cholhok with multiple key passes to slim the score.
The Lighting attack gained confidence in attack with Emma Thacker shooting from just inside the shooting circle and succeeded in scoring and boosted Lightning even further into the game. Vimbela also played a vital role in the third quarter keeping close to the Pulse attack and therefore removed a significant amount of time from Pulse’s push towards the goal.
Q4: Loughborough Lightning 49 – 55 London Pulse
The final quarter and there were only two goals in it. Lightning took to the court with fifteen minutes remaining and looked up for the battle. But Pulse matched the energy, and the quarter was an intense one with the defence and attack of both teams working tirelessly to bring the edge and claim the three points.
After the full-time whistle Pulse finished on top claiming three points and making it to second in the table. Both teams brought endless energy and heart to the game and should be commended for their efforts.
Vic Burgess wanted to share her thoughts from the close game and Lightning’s second loss of the season. "Tough weekend in the doubleheader and we are missing a few key players. So, the girls that came on the court were awesome. And there were some momentum shifts in the play’’ highlighting the importance of the squad’s depth and versatility of all players.
The ‘Long Tall Sally’ Player of the Match was Hannah Joseph after an excellent game playing at centre as she reflected on the loss and the whole game. Joseph reflected on the defeat by saying that the team will ‘’watch through it and see which things we can fix up and then prepare for stars’’ and recognised the teams’ efforts and mistakes and where they can learn.
Lightning returns to home game action on 23rd April vs Strathclyde Sirens at the Sir David Wallace Sports Arena.
Tickets to Lightning’s 2023 home campaign are now on sale and can be purchased at: https://www.lboro.ac.uk/sport/performance/lightning/netball/fixtures-results/
GS: Mary Cholhok
GA: Rhea Dixon
WA: Hannah Joseph
C: Hannah Williams
WD: Jas Odeogberin
GD: Fran Williams
GK: Alice Harvey