Fireworks came early in an explosive match last Wednesday between Sussex University Women’s 1st team and their Reading counterparts. Reading stole a narrow 32-31 win in a game that went right down to the wire. Sussex captain and Goal Shooter, Sarah Young, said it “was always going to be close right down to the end.”
On the back of a comprehensive away win over South Bank the previous week Sussex got off to a good start taking an early lead; Young, calm and composed, scoring two quick goals. However, Sussex didn’t manage to hold onto the lead and were trailing by 7 goals to 10 at the end of the first quarter. They may have been further behind if not for some solid defensive work by Goal Defence, Jo Lorimer, and Goal Keeper, Sophie Manasseh.
The second quarter got under way minutes later and Sussex were definitely up for a fight. Wing Defence, Sally Simonds, and Centre, Sophie Molyneux both stopped promising Reading moves with great blocks either side of the court. Sussex took the lead during this period through a lovely goal. Wing Attack, Liz Easton, picking up the ball in the final third laid it out for Young, who while swivelling managed to score from a long way out. It was already her twelfth goal of the game. Reading had made it tough, but at half-time Sussex had managed to reduce the deficit down to just 2 goals.
At the beginning of the third quarter Sussex had a reshuffle in their formation. Jo Park replaced the hardworking Kelly Scowen as Goal Attack. Hayley Miller came on as Wing Defence replacing Wing Attack, Easton. Simonds pushed up to Wing Attack. The game began to pick up a pace and Sussex drew level almost immediately, Young and Park linking well with some good service from Simonds and Molyneux. Of particular note was a pass from Molyneux to Park which resulted in a well taken goal. Lorimer continued to work hard and made some good interceptions along with Goalkeeper Laura Holdstock who was not making it easy for the Reading attack. As the penultimate quarter pulled to a close though, Reading got their noses in front again and Sussex found themselves four goals behind before the final period commenced.
The final quarter started with a bang as Mannaseh clattered into Reading’s Wing Attack in an attempt to intercept the ball. The pre-quarter team-huddle cries of “Sussex!” had got increasingly louder too – perhaps a warning to Reading. A deficit of four meant nothing; Sussex were here to win and were determined. Coming in at Centre was the diminutive Tamsyn Cook who added another dimension to Sussex as the game went into overdrive. Easton, back on for Simonds, set up Young for a goal which took the game to 26 goals to 28. Just two in it and there was still time. A few minutes later a great interception by Lorimer in her own half led to another Young goal. Sussex continued to press and Scowen scored an important goal to keep the game alive, not that it was dying out.
The final act of the game was Young’s 27th goal of the match and Sussex’s 31st. She steadied herself and shot to bring Sussex to within one goal of Reading. However the final whistle was blown immediately after and Sussex, were defeated by 32 to 31 goals in an agonisingly close game.
Young said afterwards that “it was a very close game, and disappointingly we lost.” Reading captain, Jess Mobbs said that “we could have won by more. However Sussex played well and we look forward to the return fixture.” Truth be told, neither team deserved to lose in a well fought and exciting game of netball.