Tears as Gibraltar beats Isle of Man in crucial match
Tears fell as Gibraltar beat the Isle of Man 43-42 in probably one of the best matches played out by the Gibraltar netball senior squad at the Tercentennary Sports Hall.
The match saw some excitement from the start as both teams played out a first quarter in which they were matching each other out on points. It was not until close to the end of the first quarter that Gibraltar gained the first real advantage taking the lead at the end with a 13-11.
With the crowd at the edge of their seats, the sports hall was electric in ambience. Gibraltar entered the second quarter and were at one time able to open up the lead to 18-13, only to find the Isle of Man chip away at it and coming to within three points.
A hard fought contest saw the umpires intervene and call up both captains to the touchline where they were spoken to about challenges that had been taking place. After the previous days physical battle which had left Gibraltar players literally bruised the umpires were today taking a tougher stance to cut out aggressive contact. Much of which was being targeted at Gibraltar players.
The third quarter saw Gibraltar maintain the lead ending the quarter with a six point advantage.
As the clock ticked on in the final quarter Gibraltar's fortunes begun to sway against them. Pressure from the Isle of Man team saw Gibraltar concede points at a crucial juncture and unable to respond. A six point lead was finally cut to one point with just 50 seconds on the clock left.
Gibraltar was to play out a tactical game of passing short which had the crowd on its feet as the ball went from hand to hand. Knocking the ball about, with players coming into a circle at one point to pass the ball around them and away from danger, Gibraltar risked losing the ball to a strong Isle of Man pressure which was pushing the local girls further back into their area.
Gibraltar maintained their possession to the rejoice and chants of a Tercentenary Sports Hall where tears were seen among the crowd and players.
The victory provides the platform for what could be two crucial matches as the Isle of Man take on Israel, with hopes to win.
With Ireland having beaten the United Arab Emirates with a 44-31 scoreline, the Gibraltar versus Ireland encounter, the final match of the tournament could decide the winner of the Open Challenge Cup with the possibility of three teams ending equal in points if Gibraltar were to succeed over Ireland.