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British women nearly topple European medallists

30th April 2011

The British Women’s Water Polo Team, powered by British Gas, were unable to maintain their unbeaten European Qualification run as they went down 14-9 to 2008 silver medallists Spain.

Playing in front of a home crowd at the Manchester Aquatics Centre, the team stayed within touching distance of the Spanish throughout the match but were never able to take the goal advantage.

Going into the contest both teams sat at the top of the group table having won their two previous matches but it was the more experienced Spanish team who went away with the win.

Great tactics and quick thinking from the British team saw Becky Kershaw and Angie Winstanley-Smith find the back of the net early on, but the Spanish team were ready to counter-attack at every turn and took a 4-2 lead just 30 seconds before the end of the first quarter.

The Spanish attack continued to push forward but impressive saves from goalkeeper Rosie Morris kept the goal difference to a minimum as the British team worked hard down the opposite end.

The half time whistle blew with Spain leading the match 9-4.

Ciara Gibson-Byrne took the score to 9-6 and Frankie Snell was in fine form as she helped to up the British goal tally further with some great goals.

Going into the final quarter the British were left with too much work to do with the score sitting at 12-8, but with the goal difference potentially crucial to European qualification the team continued to work hard and the match finished 14-9 to the visitors.

“It was an absolutely fantastic performance from the whole team,” said Fran Leighton. “Everyone worked hard and I think that the experience we got in the Hungarian National League has really showed today.

“We weren’t surprised by how they played. We know that they’re a really strong team but I think we proved out there that we are just as strong. There are just a few things here and there that made the difference.”

Despite the loss the British Women’s European campaign is still on track. Currently sitting second in the table behind today’s victors, Britain will next face third-placed Ukraine at home.

The team will now go away to prepare for their FINA World League matches held in two weeks time where they will once again come head-to-head with Spain as well as competition from Greece and Hungary.

“I’m really excited that we get a re-match in the World League,” added Leighton. “We’ll go away from here now and look toward that and hopefully we’ll be able to win that one!”

European Champs 2016