Manchester Thunder managed to get all 12 players out on court for the second time in a week as they came out on top in Manchester against Celtic Dragons to maintain their top of the table position in the Vitality Superleague. Today’s match was in support of Stonewall’s Rainbow Laces campaign, which aims to make sport for everyone.
Thunder got off to a flying start as they managed to rack up an impressive 20 goals in the opening 15 minutes. They were dominant in possession and successfully imposed themselves on Dragons, who currently sit 6th in the Superleague. Thunder took a couple of early turnovers to get the ball rolling and managed to put ten goals on the scoreboard fairly quickly.
Thunder looked dangerous on the break and at times showed immense pace, the combination of Liana Leota and Kathryn Turner showed promise early doors, topped off with some superb shooting from Joyce Mvula, Thunder looked ruthless.
The second quarter played out much the same as the first. Thunder looked after ball well and were only too happy to take advantage of Dragons’ mistakes, which were starting to creep in as 20 minutes rolled around. Dragons’ attacking combination of Bethan Dyke and Kalifa McCollin had looked a threat in the first quarter but their efficiency seemed to peter out as the clock wore down.
Thunder added another massive 20 goals to the tally in the second quarter, showing their strength and stamina in the face of a resilient Dragons defence. Mvula’s prowess under the net was nothing shot of spectacular and the Thunder crowd showed their appreciation for her signature lunge catches.
Thunder had set out their stall early, meaning the second half was the perfect opportunity for Thunder to not only get some goals on the scoreboard (they could come in handy later down the line), but also for Head Coach Karen Greig to showcase the quality of the Black and Yellow bench for the second time this week.
The third quarter saw the arrival of Amy Carter at WD, Ellie Cardwell at GS and Rebekah Airey at GK. Cardwell had no problem in picking up where Mvula had left off and Airey played a physical 15 minutes up against Chelsea Lewis and McCollin.
Thunder remained brutal in attack, adding another 18 goals to the scoreboard, no mean feat. But it always felt as though they had something left in the tank, a sign of true winners.
Dragons were able to establish themselves a little more in the final quarter, they made fewer mistakes and were able to take advantage of a couple of Thunder errors. Airey took a tumble early on in the quarter and was forced to retreat to the bench, Almond took her place back at GK.
Carter moved to C to rest Vitality Superleague Player of the Month Caroline O’Hanlon and Paige Kindred made an appearance at WD, but was later moved to GD as Malcolm came back on at WD and Ally Thomas made her second appearance of the week at GA.
It was an outstanding performance across the board for all of the shooters, firing at an incredible 94% overall. Mvula held a 100% record during her time on court, bagging an impeccable 24 out of 24, and the others missed only five shots between them.
It was another opportunity for Greig to display Thunder’s strength in depth, and another opportunity to give the bench some court time. In the end it was a fairly straight forward win for the Black and Yellows, their second in a week. An inmportant result nonetheless, when goal difference could make all the difference, and court time for the whole squad can only be positive in this unpredictable season.
Thunder’s next home game is against Severn Stars at Belle Vue on Saturday 13th April. Grab your tickets here >> http://bitly.com/thuvstars
Thunder: Mvula, Turner, Leota, O’Hanlon, Malcolm, Dovey, Almond
Dragons: Lewis, McCollin, Dyke, Jones (K), Jones (N), Bolakoro, Facey
Player of the Match: Emma Dovey
Q1: 20 – 12
Q2: 40 – 20
Q3: 58 – 29
Photo Credit: Mark Pritchard