The match marked a week since the terror attack at Manchester Arena which killed 22 and injured scores of others. Players, who all wore black armbands, joined staff, volunteers and fans to pay tribute to those affected by the blast, with a poignant and impeccably observed one-minute’s silence. Following the touching tributes, attention moved to the action on court, with the Sky Sports cameras looking on.
Team Bath started with real intent, knowing they had to win this game to put themselves in the driving seat to qualify for the Final Four. Their defence was brutal in suffocating Thunder’s attack and punished an unusually hesitant home side. Thunder never really recovered from that sucker-punch of an opening quarter and although valiant in their efforts to close the gap, a stubborn Bath stood firm.
The Black and Yellows did match their opposition for the rest of the game in terms of scoring, but Bath’s defensive tactics frustrated them throughout and despite winning turnovers, Thunder found themselves unable to consolidate them.
Other positives came from shooter Joyce Mvula who refused to be bullied by the imposing duo of Eboni Beckford-Chambers and Layla Guscoth.
At the other end of the court, Kerry Almond and Emma Dovey worked tirelessly to turn over ball and had considerable success, with ample support from Bea Skingsley on the wing and Gabriella Marshall at centre.
Thunder will now look to improve their poor starts, which have been a talking point throughout the season, as they head into play-offs. And they have one more chance to do so in their final game of the regular season against Severn Stars on June 3.
This may be a result to forget for Thunder, but it will remain a night to live on in the memory as Manchester’s netball community played its part beautifully in remembering the victims of the Manchester Arena atrocities.
Report by Denise Evans