Frenetic finish not enough

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Team Jets 46

Leyton 47

Q1: 11-11. Q2: 20-23. Q3: 30-37.

A FAST-PACED final quarter almost produced the finest of comebacks for Team Jets yesterday, but they ended their Premier League 3 campaign with an agonising loss.

With a place at the end-of-season relegation play-offs already confirmed it was a matter of pride at stake on the final day of 2017/18 at Fort Regent. Pride, and maintenance of momentum which could prove crucial when they battle to retain their current status in May.

They may have finished just short of being able to celebrate a triumph, but having bounced back from seven goals down in the final quarter Jets were able to hold their heads high, having pushed promotion-chasing Leyton right to the wire.

‘It’s bittersweet, but that’s the nature of sport,’ said coach Linda Andrews. ‘You have to play to the final whistle and minimise as many errors as you can.

‘It might have been an error at the end that cost us, but there were others throughout the match where we could have kept a close goal margin.

‘We laid our hearts and souls on the court today and to end on a game like this … OK we lost by a goal but we’ve put in a performance and pulled them back in.

‘The momentum from the last couple of games – we can take that into the play-offs.’

It was always going to be a tough encounter for Jets given the importance of the fixture for Leyton.

The visitors – third in the table going into their final game – still had the slimmest of hopes of gaining promotion as one of the top two, and their determination was clear. They were out to secure five league points and, just as importantly, improve their goal average in case of an unlikely tie with favourites Essex Open (who had two games in hand) or Cumberland.

However, Jets were more than equal in the opening quarter – leading 9-8 before relying on a late score from Emily Green to send them into the first break level at 11-11.

Ever-present goalkeeper Josie Le Masurier was replaced by debutant Gabriella Martin for Q2, and it proved to be a baptism of fire for the teenager as Leyton fizzed in three quick goals for 14-11. The hosts did settle back into their stride well but Leyton forced themselves back in front from 15-15 by half-time, with a cushion of three.

Aiming to keep her players sharp for the play-offs, Andrews switched her seven again for Q3. Martin – now eligible for the play-offs – dropped back to the bench and Leah Griffin – often used to provide late dynamism – joined Green in attack.

A steady flow of goals was not enough to cut the deficit and Leyton made themselves comfortable with a further 14 notches on the tally.

At 37-30 it looked gloomy for Jets. A within-five bonus would have been credible, but they wanted more and the tide turned again. Quickly.

Five consecutive goals brought the home side back to 37-35, and with the help of an increasingly vocal crowd they sensed a comeback. Jets celebrated every turnover like they had won the game and the scores were levelled at 41-41. Green continued to pounce and helped her team regain the lead with two minutes remaining at 45-44. That shifted to 46-46 with 30 seconds to go, and with ball in hand Jets had the chance to seal what would have been an incredible victory.

There was only one shot left in the game, but a late turnover ensured it was taken at the wrong end and Leyton were the ones left smiling.

Team Jets: Emily Green, Tallula Norman, Rosie Tonner, Jacy Brown, Lisa Luce, Lauren Devine, Josie Le Masurier, Nicole Goddard, Leah Griffiths, Gabriella Martin, Abbie Le Marquand, Libby Rothwell.

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