The Glasgow Wildcats’ first ever game at the Kelvin Hall Arena against Northumbria in the Netball Superleague, turned into disappointment for the escatically vocal crowd after the resulting 22 – 46 scoreline.
Despite an impressive start for the home side, who count University of Glasgow as one of their key investors, visitors Northumbria began to dominate as Glasgow struggled to cope with their opponents’ advantage, aided by clinical finishing and concise teamwork. In contrast, Glasgow’s initially stylish play was counteracted by inaccuracy around the hoop, especially at the match’s most crucial moment.
Northumbria immediately stamped their authority on the game by scoring twice in the opening minute. By putting the hosts on edge in front of a full house, the Wildcats were spurred into action. Intitally blocked by an alert defence, but aided by gaps in the left wing, the Glasgow squad managed to capitalise on their steady composure to keep the scores level heading towards the end of the first quarter.
The home side’s strong teamwork, which was apparant throughout, continued to pay off as any oppositional attack was quickly broken down. However, this proved to be short-lived, as the visitors began to settle into their stride, putting Glasgow out of rhythm. The result was inaccuracy around the hoop and saw the opportunity to bring themselves back into the game slipping through their fingers, as the now superior Northumbria began to score with ease against an increasingly fragile defence.
The second quarter started with the visitors ahead by a comfortable margin; Glasgow increasingly losing momentum by committing careless fouls which allowed Northumbria to show off their long distance shooting ability, and run circles round their opponents.
Forced onto the back foot constantly, Glasgow’s attack had to eventually resort to a combination of frantic passing and fruitless long balls in a bid to keep possession. Any successful breach of the Northumbria defence was in vain as the Wildcats were outplayed in every loose ball that was avaliable.
By the third quarter, Glasgow only had fleeting glimpses of the ball despite being spurred on by their tireless home support. The Wildcat’s lead playmaker, captain Fiona Moore, produced some of Glasgow’s most promising goal scoring opportunities, linking up with Gillian Douglas down the left wing to create sporadic chances, but these proved not to be enough to claw back the gap that had slowly widened over the course of the match.
The visitors’ physical presence began to become increasingly apparant as Glasgow struggled to cope with their two towering attackers, who were relentless in their distribution of the ball.
Frustration began to grow in the home squad as their likelihood of attaining something from the game decreased with every missed opportunity. Northumbria continually managed to create space and produce spectacularly fluid passing, capitalising on Glasgow’s now crumbling defence that could do nothing to halt the onslaught of goals in the final quarter.
The Wildcats valiantly battled on into the final minutes, denying their opponents of the possession they had enjoyed in previous quarters. Some eleventh hour excellent play from the Glasgow side closed the gap slightly, much to the delight of the home crowd, but the fight-back came too far into the match, with Northumbria running out comfortable winners.
After the match, club captain Fiona Moore was proud of her team’s efforts. She told Guardian:
“I don’t think the score reflected how much we tried. We got so many turnovers we just didn’t convert them and I think we need to have a little more patience with each other and also protect each other a little more when we’re passing and things like that. Everybody played really well and worked really hard.”
Moore was also keen to praise the avid support from the crowd and hopes the team can improve in their next match at Bellahouston in a couple of weeks time: “Next game we’re going to play really well in all four quarters, definitely, and I think as well we need to put on a show for our home crowd. It was a great atmosphere today, couldn’t ask for better, they go with you for every pass and everything, it’s great.”
The Wildcats’ next game sees them face the Brunel Hurricanes, at Bellahouston Sports Centre.