Ribble rejoice in first Prem victory
The final score of 43-41 was a fair reflection of two teams that gave their all in a must win fixture.
Despite Ribble dominating most of the game, a late flurry from Capricorn saw a nail biting final quarter, but ultimately it was Ribble that came out on top.
Ribble came into the game with a couple of absentees as Jordan Balazs (illness) and Jemma Holden (unavailable) both missed out with Anna Johnson and Emma Dobson coming in.
The long journey and early start could not be noticed by a Ribble side who looked sharp in the warm up and they took that into the first quarter.
A commanding start saw the Lancashire side take an early three goal advantage, with teenage star Anja Haworth’s creativity on the circle edge helping Ribble’s shooters find the Capricorn net regularly.
The defence also stood firm in their usual manner, Kate Asbridge, Eleanor Jorgenson and Elisha Priestley once again impressing. Smothering most of the Merseyside team’s attacks.
Ribble’s intensity dipped slightly midway through the quarter but a strong final few minutes saw them lead 15-11 after the first.
In past games this season Ribble have been guilty of throwing away good starts in the second quarter, but it wasn’t to be this time.
An excellent team performance from the same seven that started the match looked as though it may be enough to seal the game.
Asbridge, who was named player of the match by the opposition, and named joint players player of the match by her peers, made a handful of interceptions and rebounds to kickstart her own sides attacks.
However just as Ribble were putting their foot down, perhaps tiredness interfered as the odd error crept into the side and the intensity dropped for five minutes, allowing Capricorn to score four on the bounce.
Shooter Freya McDermott Dean, coming into the game suffering from illness, had to be taken off suffering from dizziness and was replaced by Anna Johnson but the East Lancs girls managed to keep a 25-19 lead at the halfway mark.
Another topsy turvy quarter loomed in the third, Ribble started sluggishly but the defence yet again proved their worth.
Capricorn started strong, bringing themselves back within five and enjoying a good spell of pressure and the trio of Asbridge, Jorgenson and Priestley were called upon to keep their side ahead, battling hard around the defensive circle.
However, an improved second seven minutes saw Ribble increase their lead, a couple of sensational passes from captain Sophie Layfield, one of which surprised herself as she gave a wry smile to the bench, allowed Ribble two quick and easy shots to take the lead to seven.
Going into the final quarter Ribble led 37-28 and just needed a composed 15 minutes for them to chalk the first win of the season.
However, when you're out of the habit of winning the nerves can creep in.
After leading by seven, Capricorn cut the lead to six, then five, then four, then three, then two and then with just three minutes remaining they cut it to one.
Ribble have found themselves in similar positions this year, just losing out in the last quarter on several occasions and the nerves started to creep in. Even some of the bench couldn’t watch.
McDermott-Dean, had returned to the court despite her illness and was battling hard but it was her partner Hannah Fletcher, under the highest of pressure, who delivered for her side when they needed her the most sinking an incredible long bomb to widen the gap back to two.
Capricorn hit back and again brought the lead back to one but belief had returned and Ribble were able to score the last goal of the game to seal the win by two.
The victory saw Ribble lift to ninth in the table. A hard-fought win which overall they deserved, especially given how many other close games had gone against them earlier in the season.
The girls in the Green and Blue host Deeside next week, another crucial game in their bid to climb out of the extended four relegation places.
Report by Nathan Bailey