Larne Ladies 1st XI (0) v (4) Ballymena Ladies 1st XI
Saturday 18th February
Senior League 1
Ballymena set about this match against bottom of the table Larne in a determined mood that brought early penalty corners and good saves from the home keeper. Fifteen minutes in though, Ballymena had the lead with Emily Anderson’s first goal for the 1st XI with a lifted pass over the keeper for a 1-0 lead. Larne didn’t back down and asked questions of the Ballymena defence who denied an equaliser. Just before the break Ballymena doubled the score with neat combination play from Catherine McCracken and Rebekah Reynolds for McCracken to put her side 2-0 up!
Again the second half commenced with unconverted penalty corners for Ballymena, before a Reynolds strike from open play surprised the Larne keeper who failed to make the save for
3-0 to Ballymena. Reynolds was again on cue for Ballymena’s fourth, when Clare Gillespie dribbled into the circle and dropped the pass for Reynolds to sweep the ball home.
Although Larne pushed for a consolation goal, Ballymena’s defence saw the match out with a confident 4-0 victory and continue their league campaign away to Armagh next week.
Team: J. Davis (GK), A. Crooks, C. Gillespie(C), G. McBurney, K. Young,
R. Reynolds, S. Morrison , E. Anderson, A. Logan, G. McCready,
E. Alexander, C. McCracken, E. Morrison.
Ballymena Ladies 2nd XI (1) v (2) Victorians Ladies 2nd XI
Saturday 25th February
Junior League 2
With five league games remaining the Ladies 2nd XI needed to pick up points in order to avoid the drop zone in Junior 2 and started this match with great determination and a high work rate, passing and moving the ball around with ease, however against the paly it was Vic’s that opened the scoring from a speculative effort on goal after ten minutes!
Ballymena restarted and quickly attacked on the left flank with Logan and McClintock in combination to win a penalty corner. Nicola Greer shaped up to take the strike but deftly passed to Emma Clarke who guided the ball between post and keeper to level the match only two minutes later.
Ballymena continued to press the visitors who again took the lead from another quick break to lead 2-1 with only fifteen minutes of the game played! As both teams settled, Ballymena remained stronger and had more penalty corner claims denied. Ballymena’s forward play was controlled and although tested again the defence of Greer, Dickey and Harbinson was strong to hold out to the half.
A change of formation for the second half gave the home side much more space to open up the Vic’s defence, with good through passes from McClintock and Johnston playing in Whyte and Logan on several occasion, with the final touch just steered wide of the goal. As time progressed and Ballymena pushed for an equaliser Vic’s found space and on three occasions their forward lost out one on one with goal keeper Hanna! The loss of defender Greer to a hand injury only galvanised the team and further chances came and went for Ballymena until a last gasp penalty corner at the full time whistle. With everyone up McClintock found Clarke again who unfortunately guided the ball just inches wide of the post for a deserving share of the points!
Ballymena along with Banbridge will now fight for points with four games each remaining to avoid the drop to Junior 3.
Thanks to Hugh Ramsey for umpiring.
Team: L. Hanna(GK), A. Harbinson, H. Dickey, N. Greer(C), E. Park, L. Logan, R. Whyte,
L. McClintock, E. Clarke, E. Johnston, N. Sye, R. Barr, E. Johnston, C. Lorimer.
Ballymena Men’s XI (4) v (0) Portadown Men’s 3rd XI
Saturday 25th February
Junior League 4
Ballymena welcomed fellow promotion contenders Portadown to the Academy pitches on Saturday and with just five matches remaining in the league, three points were a must to help ensure a top spot finish.
From the outset, Ballymena dictated the tempo, working the ball well across the back four, shifting Portadown from side to side and creating pockets of space for the front line to run in to.
Ballymena found the opener with a trademark Whitten drag flick from a well worked penalty corner routine. The second quickly followed with Whitten collecting a McDonald pass on the baseline before working his way past 3 Portadown defenders and lifting the ball over the on rushing keeper.
With Portadown sitting deeper in the second half, the Ballymena full backs were given time and space to pick out the quick movement of Linford, Allison and McKeown on the wings. With 15 minutes played, right back McDonald picked out McKeown who unleashed a rasping first time strike only to be denied by a Portadown foot. From the resulting penalty corner, McKeown was first to react from Lorimer’s initial strike to put Ballymena 3-0 in front.
Ballymena continued to press and were rewarded with a fourth and final goal with Linford collecting the ball on the edge of the 'D' and finding the back of the net with a fine reverse hit.
Four unanswered goals and three points keep the league in Ballymena's hands. Next week Ballymena travel to Cliftonville.
Thanks to D Lorimer for umpiring.
Team: E Hampton (GK), C Hogg, D McDonald, R Jess, A Bell, E Archer, M Allison, C Fulton (C), P Beattie, A Linford, A Lorimer, A McKeown, G Whitten