DU Netball 2s were hammered 50-11 by Manchester Metropolitan University in the 1st round of the Northern Conference Cup at Maiden Castle.
Manchester Metropolitan made early pressure pay, going 5-0 up within the first five minutes of the game. Durham only managed their first goal, scored by Lydia Woodward, after Manchester had scored 14, demonstrating how much sharper and accurate the passing and shooting of the Division Northern 2A leaders was. Durham were mere spectators as their opponents ran them ragged and gained an enormous 18-1 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
It was always going to be an uphill task from thereon in for the Palatinates, however their attitude in the second quarter suggested otherwise, harrying Manchester and forcing them into mistakes, neither of which occurred in the first quarter.
The increase in urgency resulted in Durham providing more of a goal threat, as Rosa Sparks’ double and India Wadham’s contribution made for a competitive second quarter. Nevertheless, Manchester were professional and added another seven goals before the half-time interval thanks to Chloe Shepherd and Fran Duffy.
After the half-time interval Manchester demonstrated just why they were the leaders of the Northern 2A Division, scoring 11 goals with only one reply from Wadham at the end of the quarter. However, Durham’s spirit was still commendable, as having given the ball away so cheaply, Goal Keeper Ellena Owen sprinted back to intercept the pass that would have left the in-form Shepherd with a free shot.
Unfortunately, such minutiae have little importance in a game where there is a 30-point gap between the sides with only one quarter left to play.
A somewhat reenergized Woodward gave Durham new impetus in the final quarter, becoming influential in four more goals. Yet it was no match for Manchester, who toyed with the hosts and managed another 14, with England U21s’ Captain Gabby Marshall’s change in position from Centre to Goal Attack reaping rewards as her side ended up convincing winners.
Owen highlighted Durham’s slow start to matches as a major issue currently. “We’ve found recently in our last couple of games that we’ve started off quite slow in the first quarter; it has been quite an issue for us, I think that’s why we lost our game last week [against Sheffield Hallam] and I think that was a factor for this game.”
Despite the thrashing, Owen believed there was still something to be positive about. “I think we played really well in the fourth quarter; throughout the game we really improved, especially in defence from my perspective, as being back at Goal Keeper made it so much better.
“We made loads of turnovers in the fourth quarter, so we can take a lot away from those,” she added.
Photograph: Kishan Vaghela