For their last league match of the 2017 season, Lurgan Town Ladies travelled to Ambassadors Ladies in Portadown, with a small group of stalwart supporters.
The under-strength team got off to a bright start, and after only 6 minutes Rachel Davis passed the ball up the line to Kerry Taggart, who crossed it in to meet the head of Dani Creaney, who gave the away side an early lead. Just a minute later, a corner by Dede Brady was only cleared as far as Tracy Orr, who caught it well on the half-volley but blasted it straight at the keeper. But the away side at times found it hard to adapt to the spongey ball and the long grass, and just a few minutes later, a loose pass was intercepted by an Ambassadors player whose shot from 40 yards went over keeper Emma McClements and in under the bar to bring the sides level.
Lurgan Town continued to have plenty of chances though. Jess Whelan playing in an unfamiliar position on the left wing brought the ball past the defender and into the box, but her shot went wide. Jess then set up Louise Kelly, who shot was palmed round the post by the keeper. Tracy had a free kick, but it was comfortably caught by the keeper. Dani also had two good chances, but one went wide and the other was just over the bar. The final chance of the half went to Kerry, but her curling shot from distance went just wide. In the second half, the team focussed more on spreading about and passing the ball on the ground. It almost quickly paid off, with Rachel soon through on goal but judged marginally offside, and then Dani hitting the post, quickly followed by a ball bundled into the net by Louise from a corner which was disallowed for a handball.
The breakthrough came 16 minutes into the second half, when a corner from Dede was headed by Caroline Laird before Kerry blasted it into the net on the half-volley to restore the lead for Lurgan. Jess and Louise had a few more chances, but the final ball just wasn’t going their way. Then Jess won the team a corner, which was well taken by Dede and Dani rammed it home through the keepers outstretched hands to make it 3-1.
A minute later, a shot from Kerry under pressure hit the post, but minutes later after some good play between Jess and Kerry, Kerry struck the ball into the net from a very tight angle to make it 4-1. A few minutes later, Lauren Gibson played a low ball which was heading just inside the far post, but was palmed round by the keeper for a corner. In the fading light, both Kerry and Dani came close to getting a hat-trick. But the final score stayed at 4-1.
Captain Tracy Orr said afterwards “The girls battled well in difficult conditions, and we got there in the end with a respectable 4-1 scoreline. At times we had some nice passages of play, which were good preparation for next week’s cup finals.”
The Lurgan Town Ladies would appreciate some travelling supporters for the two finals next week. They play Premiership team Newry City Ladies in the Mid Ulster Cup final on Monday 28 August at Holm Park, Armagh, and then Comber Rec Ladies in the South 2 League Cup Final at Seaview, Belfast on Friday 1 September. Both KO times are 7:30pm.
A bus is being arranged from the club for the league cup final, so please contact Gary Beattie to book your seat!
Team: E McClements, T Orr, C Laird, T Smith, D Brady, L Kelly/O’Neill, L Gibson, R Davis, J Whelan, K Taggart, D Creaney