Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First XI lost ground at the top of Senior League One when they lost 4-2 to Cookstown on Saturday.
Ballymena travelled to Cookstown prepared for a tough match against the Co. Tyrone side and it did not disappoint with Cookstown coming out on top and determined to prove a point against a Ballymena side they hadn’t beaten in a few games.
The home side rattled the Ballymena defence early on with constant pressure that finally earned them a goal from a deflection lifting high into the net past Logan.
Ballymena kept Cookstown at bay rest of first half with no further goals being added, but created a few chances of their own through Gage, Crooks and Taggart pushing hard in midfield. Forwards Gillespie, Reynolds and Storey were unlucky on several occasions not to convert.
Cookstown were comfortable on their home water pitch with penetrating long balls and aerials to quick forwards who tirelessly worked to create the chances in front of goal, however Morrison and Logan were a formidable force at the back and held Cookstown’s lead to one at half time.
Into the second half and with Ballymena chasing the game they started the stronger finding their passing game and rattling Cookstown, although the resurgence suffered a blow with another early goal from Cookstown for 2-0.
In the last 15 minutes Gillespie and Hogg attacked from defence and the team as a whole began passing around a frustrated Cookstown side, Ballymena finally got a goal for their hard work from a penalty corner, which was initially saved by the keeper only to be turned in by Reynolds for 2-1.
But within minutes Cookstown had regained their 2 goal advantage, scoring on the counter attack for 3-1.
Into the last minutes and there were still two goals to be scored! The first saw Clare Gillespie find the back of net slotting past the keeper for 3-2, only for Cookstown to score a fourth from a fantastic solo effort from centre midfield.
Although disappointed by the result Ballymena will take the positives into next week-ends round of matches including their semi-final in the Senior Cup.
Ballymena: J. Logan (GK), S. Morrison, V. Hogg, A. Crooks, E. King, S. Gage, A. Logan, C.Gillespie (C), R. Reynolds, S. Storey, E. Gillespie, Z. Dickson, H. Taggart,
Ballymena II 1, Lisnagarvey III 0: Ballymena hosted Lisnagarvey 3s at the Showgrounds and looked the better side in first half but were unfortunate not to convert any of their chances, despite the tireless efforts of Emma Clarke and Natalie Rea in the midfield.
Ten minutes into the second half Ballymena won the only penalty corner of the match and duly converted, with a straight strike from the top of the circle into the bottom right hand corner of the net from Captain Nicola Greer.
Throughout the half, Lisnagarvey continued to test Ballymena’s defence looking for an equaliser but Hollie Dickey and Ashleigh Harbinson remained strong in defence, denying Garvey a single shot on goal for the duration of the match.
At the whistle Ballymena claimed another 3 points with the 1-0 victory, to remain top of their league with only one defeat so far in the league campaign.
Seconds: L.Hanna(GK), A. Harbinson, N. Greer(C), H. Dickey, K. Kealey, L. McClintock, E. Clarke, L. Logan, A. Logan, K. Aiken, R. Murphy, N. Rea, K. McMaster.
Ballymena III 0, Mossley II 1: Ballymena ladies welcomed Mossley to the Showgrounds on Saturday and early exchanges of play highlighted Ballymena’s eagerness and directness in attacking the Mossley goal as opposed to the tactical play adopted by the more experienced visitors.
Jenny Sutherland marshalled the defence and midfield, with Nicola Sloan mopping up well at sweeper and Sarah Montgomery and Hollie Dickey, at left and right back, continually breaking down the opposition moves.
The midfield trio of Jessica Duncan, Rebecca McPeake and Lynsday McClintock were a continuous threat, running strongly at every opportunity, offloading to their attackers Laura Logan, Julie Kernohan and Vicky Cooper.
Both teams had a number of chances in the first half and it was Mossley who seized the advantage by tapping in a scrappy encounter at the back of the Ballymena goal for a 1-0 lead.
The second half saw probably one of the best periods of play this season, but the Mossley ‘keeper made a number of excellent saves, both from open play and short corners. Time and again the home team pressed forward in search of a deserved equaliser but the experience and tactics of the Mossley defence, made a number of last gasp tackles and clearances.
Veteran Charlene Lorimer impacted at centre forward for the last 15 minutes and put in some strong challenges. Her determination and effort was nearly rewarded but for the efforts of the Mossley keeper again.
The team would like to thank Joanne Logan for Umpiring.
Thirds: V.Cooper, H. Dickie, J. Duncan, L. Hanna (GK), J. Kennedy,J. Kernohan (Capt), L. Logan, C. Lorimer, L. McClintock, Lindsay McClintock, R.McPeake, S. Montgomery, N. Sloane, J. Sutherland.
Result: Mossley IV 4, Ballymena IV 3.
Ballymena 8, Parkview 1: Ballymena hosted Parkview in the first round of the Irish Hockey Challenge Cup and emerged comfortable 8-1 winners.
The first half went the way of the Braid men, whose vital win last weekend in the league against Ballynahinch, filled them full of confidence. They opened the scoring through Lorimer, who continued his fine run of form in front of goal.
Throughout the first half Ballymena produced some impressive, free flowing hockey which allowed them to increase their lead to 5-0 before half time through Davis, Allison, O’Neill and Linford.
This all but ended any chance Parkview had but credit to them, they pulled a goal back early in the second half but Ballymena responded again with a further 3 goals through McKeown, Lowry and Davis with his second of the game to take the final tally to 8-1 at the full time whistle.
Ballymena: E. Hampton (GK), C. Hogg, D. McDonald, A. Linford, E. Archer, T. Lowry, A. McKelvey, M. O’Neill, M. Allison, A. McKeown, A. Lorimer, C. Davis.
Down II 1, Ballymena II 0: The Men’s 2nd XI were in Downpatrick on Saturday on one of the last few gravel pitches in the men’s game, playing Down 2nd XI.
In a whirlwind start Ballymena found themselves 1-0 down within 2 minutes and feared the worst as a second attack shaved the visitor’s post within 5 minutes!
But holding on Ballymena found their rhythm and as the youngsters adapted to the pitch the ‘old hands’ steadied the ship from the back and started to build attacks on the home goal.
Just before the break Moody did have the ball in the goal from a penalty corner strike only to have it disallowed for not leaving the circle from the initial push out!
The second half was a wide open affair with both teams creating further chances, but McDowell and Grimasson were solid in defence, as was keeper Birrell, whose quick thinking and agile skills foiled several Down chances.
In the last 10 minutes of the half when Ballymena finally did beat the keeper but the strike on goal found the feet of a Ballymena player on the goal line as the luckless 2nds lost out by the single goal.
The team would like to thank Davy Lorimer for travelling with them to Umpire.
Seconds: J. Birrell, A. Hanna(C), W. Barr, J. Grimasson, S. Glass, S. Gordon, P. Moody, K. Murphy, T. Cole, D. McDowell, J. Russell, D. Bradley.