Ribble see it out for vital win
Ribble's match day squad was missing some familiar faces with Freya McDermott-Dean and Anja Haworth away on representative duties and Sophie Layfield unavailable meaning coach Khalia Rocco came into the game with a small match squad of eight. 17yr old Anna Johnson stepped into the shooting circle to partner Hannah Fletcher and there was an hours hard work for Jordan Balazs and Jade Myers in centre court but the determination to overcame the fatigue.
The game started well for Deeside and some early turn over saw them edge ahead 3-1 and then 6-3 but from that point the home side began to find their rhythm to roar back level and the past their opponents, taking a 12-11 lead at the end of the quarter. Johnson and Fletcher were converting their opportunities and the defensive trio of Kate Asbridge, Eleanor Jorgensen and Elisha Priestley started to exert the kind of pressure on which many of Ribble's performances have been based.
Into quarter two and the same seven looked like they had the game won. Balazs and Myers swapped bibs but the otherwise unchanged East Lancs side started to draw clear with a dominant display. Sure feeding of the circle and constant hassle through mid court meant that Deeside just could get a foothold in the quarter. Ribble threw everything at them in an attempt to get the game won by half time and finished with a run of 5 goals to establish a 24-17 lead at half time.
There were some tired legs but maybe also a feeling that they had the measure of their opponents. Deeside had other ideas.
The two games between these sides last season were both very close games and although it was Ribble who came out strongest, tiredness seemed to hit hard and all of a sudden it was the Cheshire side on a roll.
From a commanding 28-19 lead it all started to go wrong for Ribble and two successive centre passes were turned over. Suddenly it was 29-24, then 25. An injury change saw Emma Dobson introduced at WD and her fresh legs certainly helped but come the end of the quarter the lead was a mere 2 goals at 31-29.
Coach Rocco made changes. Kate Asbridge moved forward to GS, Priestley gamely returned to the court with her team in need at GD and Eleanor Jorgensen moved back to GK. Dobson remained at WD and Myers and Balazs were asked for one last effort. They gave it.
Goals were exchanged on centre pass to 33-31 when Deeside made what looked like a crucial turn over to get within one and with their centre pass to come it looked like they would draw level, having converted from their previous ten centres. But with the Ribble bench looking on nervously they came up with the big play and the big moment and immediately restored their two goal advantage. It proved to be the turning point and the calmness of Balzs and Myers were able to keep control of the ball. Asbridges height at GS gave a good target to feed and she dominated any rebound. From a nerve jangling 36-34 the game moved on in the blink of an eye to 44-37 and although Deeside showed tremendous character to finish hard with the last three scores to earn a bonus point, a 44-40 Ribble victory was fitting reward for a hard days work.