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Netball - Gibraltar’s bid for gold fade as IOM fail to beat UAE

IOM 51-59 UAE

Gibraltar will play for silver against the Isle of Man after the latter were unable to beat the United Arab Emirates leaving them as the firm favourites. Gibraltar with no opportunity to challenge for gold unless both Switzerland and Malta produce major surprises in their matches against UAE and IOM.
The second of the title contender-matches saw the Isle of Man face the United Arab Emirates on a day of crucial double headers.
The UAE buoyed by their victory against Gibraltar were now pipped as favourites. The Isle of Man ranked 23 in the world rankings were also considered as one of the strongest teams coming into the tournament. Their performances already showing that they were a force to reckon with.
An early start by IOM was soon matched by the UAE as they both stayed level with each other early on. The UAE taking the lead at 4-3 but soon seeing the score levelled out at 4-4 in what was a tightly contested first seven minutes.
For Gibraltar, watching the match closely, the hope was for the IOM to grab a win from this match which would leave their clash with the IOM as a crucial decider.
There was little being given away by either team as they went to 5-5 then 6-6, then 7-7. The IOM just nudging ahead to 8-7. However, losing possession after two great intercepts the UAE allowed The Isle of Man to find a way to open a small gap as they went 10-7 ahead.
The UAE using their height and strength across court closed the gap to 10-9. An intercept in defence paving the way to level the score with just three and a half minutes left in the first quarter.
The IOM pulled one back guided by Ashley Hall only to see the UAE respond with an equaliser.
End to end it went to 12-12, then 13-13 as the seconds ticked away in the first quarter neither team willing to give an inch as they entered the last minute at 14-14. The UAE equalising at 15-15 with ten seconds to go for the end of the first quarter.
It was the UAE who sunk in the first in the second quarter with IOM keeping pace with a quick response to make it 16-16.
With both teams playing at a high tempo the smallest of mistakes looked to be capable of playing a crucial role.
The IOM found a way to take a momentary lead but failure to convert on a couple occasions saw the UAE punish them by retaking the lead and going 18-20 ahead with five minutes gone of the second quarter. This boosting their confidence.
The UAE expats showed their quality as they went 19-22 ahead with some quick handling and distribution to create space for their shooters. There was little evidence of any tiredness from the previous day’s match against Gibraltar.
The IOM maintained their momentum waiting for their opportunity as they kept at touching distance, although seeing the UAE extend their lead to five at one stage.
The UAE’s strength and quality in passing and movement saw them build on their lead as they entered the final minutes of the quarter with UAE 22-28 in the lead with three minutes left.
Although fighting back the IOM found themselves going further behind as defensive pressure turned to sharpshooting. At one end denying goal opportunities. At the other end adding to their tally as they finished for halftime at 24-34. Hopes for Gibraltar for a win for the IOM started to fade away as UAE were looking the stronger. The fast paced tempo of the match between the IOM and UAE was also likely to play a crucial factor in the day’s results with the IOM facing Gibraltar next.
Stepping out for the second half the IOM looked ready to try for a fight back.
It was the UAE who added to the score first with an immediate response. Although showing that they were willing to put their bodies in the line with some dives to intercept the IOM struggled to halt the UAE offensive. With five minutes gone into the third quarter the UAE had maintained their ten point lead.
The IOM managed to convert their centre pass to close the gap at 31-39 only to see an easy transition as they UAE added their 40th point.
Needing turnovers to reduce the gap the Isle of Man struggled to close the gap.
The IOM managed to close the gap but not enough to cause a major dent to UAE’s confidence. Enough though to keep the final quarter open for a potential comeback.
By the end of the third quarter the IOM reduced the gap to six points and finishing 39-45 behind.
The match saw Nadine Pardo Zammitt officiating once again.
With no changes in players from either side as they entered the fourth quarter the tone was set for a final battle. The IOM risking trying to get a result in this match which would leave the doors open to them also got a fight for gold.
The Isle of Man produced a fighback which saw them close down to five point after just five minutes. Only to see their opponents comeback again to six points. This repeated again in the next run of play.
A double chance to reduce the gap to four was wasted after a brilliant intercept saw a failure in converting. The pressure on the IOM building as they stayed behind at 48-53 with five minutes left. Their opponents patiently holding on knowing that all they had to do was to hold on to their margins long enough.
The match went to 50-55 with three and a half minutes left on the clock. The IOM managed to reduce it to four points only to see a bad decision from a centre pass see UAE regain possession and bring it back to five. A further mistake leading to a further point for the UAE. The unforced errors piling up as the UAE increased their lead to 51-59 with a minute and a half of the match to go.
The UAE maintained their composure to stroll to victory with a 51-59 which places the UAE as favourites if they win their matches against Switzerland and Malta.
The Isle of Man will play Gibraltar in a match which should decide who takes silver.
The Isle of Man will still need to play Switzerland on Sunday.
Gibraltar Play the Isle of Man this evening at 1900hrs.

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