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Netball - Just a minute away from silver as Gibraltar beaten by IOM 47-41

Isle of Man 47-41 Gibraltar

Gibraltar netball was to fail in their attempt to obtain a chance for silver medal after losing in the last minute against the Isle of Man.
In what was one of the tightest and most exciting matches of the tournament it was the Isle of Man who edged ahead in the final sixty second after neither team had given way throughout the four quarters.

With both the Isle of Man and Gibraltar beaten by the United Arab Emirates this Saturday’s 7pm clash between the two was a battle for silver. With Gibraltar playing it’s last match in the official tournament this was their last chance to claim their bid for silver.
The IOM started with the first goal. Just as soon Gibraltar equalised to the roar of the capacity crowd.
A quick through court ball after IOM failed to convert saw Gibraltar take the lead. Already a fast paced game Gibraltar hoped for the IOM’s match against the UAE just seven hours before to have its effects on the visitors fitness. This was not to be the case in the early moments of the game with the IOM running at Gibraltar.
The IOM turned the tables to go 4-2 ahead even against some good defending from Rovengo.
Pozo was to convert to bring them to within a point but could not capitalise when a well read cross was intercepted giving the IOM the chance to go ahead 6-3.
It was a tightly contested battle through the middle with IOM keeping their three point lead until halfway through the quarter.
Settling down and securing the pass and positioning Gibraltar went to within two points. Gillingwater collecting on the rebound allowed Gibraltar to go on the offensive again with Megan Martinez sinking in the seventh and eighth for the equaliser.
Not afraid to play across the width of the court Gibraltar stayed on level terms with the IOM with the slight advantage for the visitors ahead by the single point. The match became somewhat frantic in the passing with Gibraltar falling foul as the IOM went ahead by two points with a minute to go. Two very good intercepts by Rovengo ensured that the IOM did not increase their points advantage as the first quarter finished 12-10 in favour of the IOM.
Gibraltar found themselves going behind by three points. Gibraltar were able to cut it down after some pressure through the middle to bring the score to within one point. Defensive pressure forced errors as Gibraltar regained possession. Working the ball Pozo was to receive to equalise. Ensuring they didn’t lose the ball from centre they managed to go ahead at 14-13 although the IOM equalised.
Gibraltar has however turned the tables and now had the point advantage.
Good defensive work by Gillingwater paving the way to lead 14-16.
The IOM pulled it back to come to level terms at 16-16 before Gibraltar added their next.
With the match now closing to halftime any error could prove to be costly as both teams stayed on level terms. Gibraltar’s shooters were keeping their calm to keep Gibraltar’s momentum. With four minutes left of the quarter a failed long pass gave Gibraltar a two point lead. The IOM came back to level at 20-20 with three minutes left. They then added a further two to take the lead Gibraltar cutting it back to one as IOM responded. As it looked as IOM would add a third to the points gap a good intercept kept them within the two point distance.
Gibraltar managing to cut it to just a single point distance at half time as IOM went into the break with a 24-23 lead.
Already having experienced missing out on glory in their last confrontation Gibraltar did not want a repeat by missing by mere points against the IOM.
Encouraged by volunteers the crowd was raised to clap through the halftime break as the electric atmosphere of the Tercentenary Sports Hall was being build up. The tensions on the court clearly evident in the stands as the local supporters rose to become Gibraltar’s eighth player.
With everything to play for Gibraltar returned to the court equalising with their first attempt.
Pressure from Gibraltar’s defence saw them regain possession. Megan Martinez giving Gibraltar a 25-24 lead. Martinez again calmly putting them further in the
lead. Two finger tip intercepts by Rovengo and Gillingwater nearly provided gibraltar with a turn over. But Gibraltar had to contend with the two point lead as Pozo this time sunk the ball calmly.
Gibraltar took a three point lead at 29-26 after some patient build up. Strong defending with Gillingwater not giving up to collect providing Gibraltar a further opportunity although the IOM managed to find their way back to make it 29-27.
The IOM managed to comeback to within a point but keeping their composure Gibraltar brought it back to a two point lead.
The IOM maintained their battling stance not giving an inch this even though having played out a tough tight encounter against the UAE. With three minutes left of the third quarter the match was at 33-31 for Gibraltar. The IOM shooters were equally as sharp as Gibraltar’s as they kept they tried to claw back the two points.
With just thirty second left on the clock for the end of the third quarter Gibraltar risked losing ground after losing possession. They were to pay heavily as the IOM managed to equalise in the final second of the quarter the score at 34-34.
It was now down to the wire for both teams with the crowd raising to occasion with a festive feel as they prepared to watch what was to be a final deciding quarter.
Neither team had given an inch with defenders putting their bodies on the line with many a tumble as they dived to intercept. The shooters providing an impressive display in marksmanship as they sunk their points.
The Isle of Man found the first point only to then see Pozo score.
There were some tense moments as possession was gained and regained by both sides before Gibraltar equalised at 36-36. Megan Martinez was to pull one back for Gibraltar to take the lead. Keeping possession and playing short quick passes Gibraltar again found themselves with a two goal lead. Rovengo’s intercept as the IOM looked to score gave Gibraltar a chance to go ahead. Martinez needed two attempts after missing her first and displaced as she went for the rebound.
A fantastic pass by Moreno found the attackers to put Gibraltar in a four point lead at 40-36.
The Isle of Man responded trying to come back and shortened the gap to two with seven minutes to go. Missing under the basket Gibraltar provided IOM a chance to come to within one point. Set up to equalise IOM were denied by a magnificent defensive jump by Rovengo to give Gibraltar chance to stay ahead.
The Isle of Man managed to come to take the lead at 42-41 with three minutes to go after some intense defensive pressure. The IOM added a second point to their lead as they still held possession giving them a three point lead with just a minute to go. A rare miss by Martinez gave IOM possession which they converted to go 45-41 ahead. The Isle of Man capitalising in the final minutes as they went further into the lead 47-41 on the final whistle. The Isle of Man no favourites to take the silver with just one match to go against Switzerland this Sunday.
Tears were shed by Gibraltar players as they faced disappointment. Their efforts however praised by fans and officials after providing a magnificent, never-say-die performance in which the result could have gone either way.
Captain Rovegno after the match expressed her pride at her team admitting that it was a few errors on their part that had given the IOM the advantage although the match could have gone either way.
Gibraltar next plays Northern Ireland in their second ranking match this weekend.

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