Play-off place is prize for derby winners

OLD Brodleians and Calderdale 2 face a last-match showdown at Whitcliffe Mount on Saturday (9.0am) with a play-off place up for grabs in the Premier Division of the West Yorkshire League.

Both sides were in action at the same venue with contrasting results last weekend. The gap between the pair is down to one point after Brods were beaten 55-50 by table toppers Harrogate Phoenix and Calderdale 2 maintained their excellent run with a 37-22 success over Fusion firsts.

Brods had a squad of just eight due to trips and a family bereavement.

There was little between the sides in the first quarter. Harrogate were very aggressive in defence and their goalkeeper was warned about her discipline.

Brods started to struggle with their feeds into the circle due to a lack of movement. By the end of the first quarter Brods were trailing 15-12.

A change in positions proved effective with Beth Allen and Charlotte Wilson switching in defence. Jess Brearley moved from wing attack to centre and Sophie Morley dropped back from centre to wing defence. Steph Robinson came off and India Shibil went into wing attack.

Vicky Phillips and Paula Fozzard sank some excellent shots to enable Brods to go three ahead, helped with interceptions and defensive pressure from Brearley, Wilson and Allen.

The sides matched each other goal for goal but heading into the final quarter Harrogate led 26-25.

Allen and Wilson turned the ball over on several occasions and there was excellent play from Morley but Brods found it hard to feed their shooters and although many penalties were awarded to Phillips and Fozzard, the Harrogate shooter had the decisive say.

Calderdale seconds’ desire was evident from Fusion’s first centre pass. Tight marking and good pressure by the whole team unsettled Fusion and Calderdale roared into a 6-0 lead.

Excellent rebounds and interceptions by the Calderdale defence of Michelle Haley, Sue Seymour and Gill Coldwell restricted Fusion’s shooting chances and enabled Calderdale to finish the first quarter 14-6 ahead.

Calderdale continued to make few mistakes and forced their opponents to rush their game and lose control of the ball.

Sally Greenwood and Saleha Cooke worked hard in centre court, chasing back when Fusion had the ball to contribute to the tally of tips and interceptions.

They also linked well with shooters Claire Higgins and Kirsty Hammond, whose accurate passing and fast movement in the shooting circle proved a headache for the Fusion defence.

Fusion had tightened their play by the end of the quarter, especially in defence, but Calderdale still went in 26-12 ahead.

Captain Sarah Heaton decided to change the pattern of play in the Calderdale attacking circle by bringing on Laura Kennedy at goal attack.

Fusion picked up the pace and decisions in the attacking circle went Fusion’s way. They took their shooting chances but Calderdale remained well ahead at 37-22.

Although the pace of the final quarter was slower, Calderdale did not let up on their impressive defensive play and Fusion were restricted to five goals with Haley named player of the match.

Brods may have lost on Saturday but coach Vicky Hellowell is looking forward to the meeting with Calderdale.

“We will be going out with all guns blazing. All our squad members are available, even Jessica Brearley is returning from the start of her vacation to play.

“I’m proud of all the squads this year. Their commitment and vast improvement has made it an enjoyable season.”