Lurgan Town Ladies found themselves in the unusual position of going a goal down, when they took on Ballynahinch Ladies at the Arena last night. But they kept their heads, and were 2-1 winners in the end, to move to joint top of the South 1 league table.
Within 2 minutes, Ballynahinch forced a great diving save from keeper Emma McClements, and it wasn’t until the 8th minute that the home side got their first chance at goal, when a cheeky back-heel pass from Kerry Taggart was picked up by Niamh Ruddy, only for her shot to sail over the bar. Lurgan Town were awarded a couple of free kicks as Ballynahinch tried to disrupt their flowing football, which were taken by captain Tracy Orr – the first one was narrowly wide, and the second was saved by the keeper.
On the half hour, some risky play from Lurgan saw Ballynahinch break through and score, to give them the lead. In response to going behind for the first time in a match, Lurgan raised their game.
5 minutes later after a great run down the wing, Debbie Douglas crossed into the box, where the ball got caught up in the Ballynahinch defence, but young Jess Whelan got the decisive touch – knocking it into the net for an equaliser.
The home side kept pressing, with Dani Creaney’s shot going just wide. Then just before half time, Kerry was in on goal but took one touch too many and her shot was saved, but Jess was in the right position and scored the rebound, to make it 2-1 to Lurgan.
In the second half, Lurgan had more chances, with the Ballynahinch keeper saving and blocking shots from Debbie, Tracy and Kerry. But a third goal to calm the nerves (of both players and spectators) didn’t come. The intensity of the game increased, as Ballynahinch tried to get back in the game, resulting in a few yellow cards.
But apart from a long-range shot in the last few minutes, which was safely held by Emma, the Lurgan goal wasn’t really threatened.
Afterwards, Tracy Orr (captain and player/manager for the night) said “It was a tough 90 minutes, as Ballynahinch were difficult to break down, but the girls all worked hard and put in a great shift – especially Jess, who definitely deserved her two goals.”
The ladies must rest up now for Friday evening, when they meet Mid Ulster Ladies in the Mid Ulster Cup. All support at Mid Ulster Sports Arena will be most welcome!
Team: E McClements, C Laird, L Thompson, T Orr, N Ruddy, D Douglas, L Gibson, T Brush, J Whelan, K Taggart, D Creaney Subs: T Smith (used)