It was a night to remember for Lurgan Town Ladies, as they overcame their disappointment of finishing runners up in the South 1 league to put 5 past a depleted Comber team without reply at Seaview.
The game started in an edgy fashion, with both teams focusing on not making mistakes and ensuring they kept it tight at the back. As such the first real effort came after 10 minutes, when a low free-kick was played in by Comber’s Shannon McCullough out on the left and controlled by forward Lindsay Johnston who hit a swivelling shot from 15 yards, but could only direct it straight at goalkeeper Emma McLements, who gathered well.
Three minutes later Comber fashioned another chance, as Johnston just missed getting on the end of a dangerous corner, but the ball fell to captain Danielle Boyd, who was 8 yards out. However she was denied by a goal saving tackle from her counterpart Tracy Orr, who blocked brilliantly to prevent what would have been a certain goal.
It was Lurgan that eventually took the lead, slightly against the run of play and in rather fortuitous circumstances when a corner was played into the box, and the Comber defence could only put the ball into their own net when they were under pressure from Lauren Gibson, who would surely have scored if the ball had reached her.
Lurgan, whilst they might not have expected to take the lead in this game, having been beaten by the opposition twice in the league this year, sensed they had a real opportunity, and came strongly at Comber. They nearly scored twice in quick succession, firstly when a corner was whipped in and the resulting header was cleared off the line by Debbie Ferguson, and then right after that when the following corner was again cleared off the line, this time by Caroline Walker.
They kept going though, and the second goal game came shortly after, in the 30th minute, when the ball was played through midfield and then to striker Dani Creaney, who drove a low shot from the left across goalkeeper Jade McPhee and into the bottom corner to double the advantage.
Lurgan, who were gaining in confidence, tried to tighten the screw and kill the game off, and would have gone further ahead just before the half time whistle if it wasn’t for McPhee, who saved two low drives at the near post, first from Creaney and then from fellow forward Kerry Taggart, to keep the score a 2-0 at half time.
Comber came racing out of the blocks in the second half, in an attempt to get back into the game. They got the ball down well and played a few good passing moves before getting the ball to Johnston but her shot was directed too close to McClements in the Lurgan goal, who was able to stop it easily.
Lurgan effectively killed the game a few minutes later when Taggart picked up the ball after a move consisting of 10 passes, beat her marker, ran into the box and took it around the covering defender before calmly sidefooting it into the net to make it 3-0 while under pressure from Thompson, who just couldn’t get a proper block.
Despite going 3 down, Comber kept persevering, but were unable to trouble Orr and her teammates in the Lurgan defence, with McClements not being called into action too often.
Further goals were added in the 80th and 83rd minutes, firstly when Creaney beat the offside trap before placing her shot high into the net for her second, before substitute Rachel Davis got the ball on the left, cut in and scored the goal of the night when she blasted a shot into the top left corner that McPhee could do nothing about to complete the scoring.
The full time whistle sparked celebrations from both the players and their 50 or so fans that had made the journey to watch. Manager Davy Hodgens was delighted too: “That was a good game. I thought it was going to be very tough for us, as Comber beat us twice in the league, and those were the only matches we dropped points in. I didn’t expect that score line. But the girls were brilliant tonight. We started a bit slowly, as we changed our formation due to missing a true left-footer in the team tonight, but we changed it after 20 minutes, went back to 4-4-2 and never looked back.
The girls were brilliant, and it is a good consolation for them. We were going for the league, and are obviously disappointed to miss out on it. But I believe we can build over the close season, and come back and put together a title winning season next year! Thanks to all the fans that come and support us regularly too!”