Blues netball: Birmingham 30, Oxford 26

Birmingham University 1sts edged out Oxford’s netballers 26-30 in a tightly-contested fixture at Birmingham’s Edgbaston Netball Centre. Nevertheless, after having lost to Birmingham in their opening fixture by 19 goals, the four-point margin of victory indicates significant improvement from the Blues, and they will hope to translate their confidence into a positive result at home to Birmingham 2nds next time out.

The returning England international Layla Guscoth, playing her first Blues match for a year, slotted straight back into a tight unit of circle defence along with Hannah McKay, and they combined to make some excellent interceptions and expert transitions down the court.

The Blues’ determination to avenge last month’s defeat was evident from the first centre pass; taken by the hosts, the ball was rapidly intercepted, and Oxford went 1-0 up within the first few seconds. Oxford maintained their lead throughout the first half, and went into the break with a 14-13 advantage thanks to some feisty attacking from Sasha Eady and accurate shooting from Natalie Redgrave and captain Sarah Godlee,

Unfortunate decisions, reckless mistakes, and some rough play from the opposition perhaps cost Oxford the game in the third quarter. However, the Blues never backed down, and battled until the end, making this match possibly their most exciting so far this season. With Oxford hovering precariously above the relegation zone, a return to winning ways in their next fixture is vital.