Written by Grace Gunn
A scintillating fourth quarter from Strathclyde Sirens saw them defeat Severn Stars 51-60 at the University of Worcester Arena despite a strong start by the home side.
The home side dominated the opening 15 minutes after a fast-paced Stars proved too much for the Glasgow-based Sirens as they led 16-13.
Stars came out firing in the second quarter after drawing a seven-goal lead through in-form duo Sigi Burger and Grace Namana but the away side fought back to reduce the deficit to 30-27.
Sirens’ substitute Stella Oyella provided her side with a lifeline inside quarter three as the Ugandan international displayed her accuracy, drawing the game to just 42-41 in favour of Stars heading into the final 15 minutes.
Lesley MacDonald’s side left with all three points after a clinical third quarter display from the attacking force which deemed to be too much for Stars as Sirens secured a 51-60 win.
Stars began the match with the first centre pass in front of their home support but after a three second holding call on Rebekah Airey, Sirens’ Niamh McCall netted the first attempt.
After going goal for goal, it was the away side who cracked first after Beth Goodwin’s misplaced shot was met by keeper Jo Trip.
The hosts continued to pressure Sirens at both ends of the court before strong play from Namana saw her side take a two-goal lead.
Continuing to display their defensive capabilities, Airey provided a crucial interception after spotting Beth Dix’s attempted quick pass before sending a looping ball into the arms of Burger who calmly converted.
A fast-paced centre routine from Stars’ attacking third saw Burger in aches of space unmarked, dispatching the shot to keep her side ahead at the end of quarter one.
Trip’s side remained unchanged as they continued to pressure the Sirens attack, forcing them into errors before drawing a seven-goal lead through attacking duo Burger and Namana.
However, the away side began to find their feet as Stars’ comfortable lead became marginal following a flurry of goals from McCall and Dix, putting them within reaching distance.
A moment of worry for the Stars crowd as captain Gabby Marshall hit the deck, clutching her ankle but the centre wasn’t to be stopped as she returned to her feet and continued.
Despite a burst of intensity from MacDonald’s side, Stars retained their composure within the attacking third as Namana and Burger linked up with a one-two before the South African drew their lead by four goals.
Stars took a 30-27 lead into half time, but Sirens began to find their feet within the game as they looked to line up a thrilling second half.
MacDonald looked to freshen things up in the attack for Sirens in the second half as the highly anticipated Oyella entered the fray.
Within no time, the summer recruit was off the mark, bringing her side to just a one goal difference but Stars’ Airey and Trip continued to narrow the angles for the attacking duo.
Moments later, Stars were forced into a defensive change as Airey limped off the court after picking up an ankle injury – Jess Haynes replaced the injured Airey.
Haynes wasted no time in getting involved after pressuring Oyella into a mistake before regaining possession, sending her side on the attack with Burger converting.
The super sub Oyella showcased her defensive abilities as she created a turnover for her side after intercepting the Stars’ centre pass, drawing her side level in the closing stages of Q3.
A buzzer beater from Burger saw her side head in with a narrow 42-42 lead with just 15 minutes remaining.
Sirens came firing out of the blocks as an early turnover from Towera Vinkhumbo provided Oyella with the goal to draw her side back level at 42-42.
A quick centre pass routine from the Glasgow-based side caught Stars out as they went ahead for the first time since the opening minute.
However, a looping ball from Jess Shaw was comfortably met by Burger who dispatched her shot to cancel Sirens’ lead.
Now firing on all cylinders, Sirens created a two-goal lead after Abi Robson’s interception forced the turnover, allowing the attack to convert.
The newly invigorated Sirens side drew a 10-goal lead with just minutes to go but a quick-fire double from Stars, provided them with a glimmer of hope.
The hope was short lived as unforced errors began to creep into Stars’ play which saw Sirens leave with a 51-60 victory.
Player of the match: Strathclyde Sirens’ Stella Oyella
Photos by Clivejonespr.com