Ballymena ladies 1st XI were disappointed to suffer their first defeat of the season away to Banbridge on Saturday.
Ballymena started the more eager of the 2 teams with several penetrating runs into their opponent’s circle, but without reward.
It wasn’t until Reynolds and Gillespie linked up together that Ballymena finally converted their pressure, after Reynolds on her reverse stick shot high into the net for 1-0.
Soon after, Banbridge were level, after a quick break converting their first chance of the game into a goal 1-1.
Ballymena’s mid field and forwards worked tirelessly to frustrate Banbridge but just could not find the net a second time, even after being awarded a penalty flick, when a Banbridge player caught the ball high in the circle with her hand!
Crooks’ effort at the goal saved off the keeper’s pad low to her right.
Banbridge had few chances but when they did, they took them and in quick succession scored two goals from a defensive error and penalty corner to take a 3-1 lead at half time
The second half was mostly played in the Banbridge half as Ballymena looked to find two elusive goals to level the game but chance after chance passed.
Reynolds on a goal bound run into the circle was fiercely fouled by keeper and another penalty flick was awarded, but once again the Banbridge keeper outwitted Anne Crooks for a second time and saving with her pads again.
Even young Ellen King couldn’t turn Ballymena’s luck around as her deft touch at the back post, saw the ball glide millimetres past the outside of the post with the keeper well beaten!
It was a game that Ballymena could have scored several goals but it just wasn’t their day and although disappointed with the result they were happy with the manner in which they created opportunities.
Ballymena: L. Hanna (GK), S. Morrison, C. McCracken, G. McBurney, A. Crooks, E. King, S. Gage,
C.Gillespie (C), R. Reynolds, S. Storey, E. Gillespie, Z. Dickson, V. Hogg.
Ballymena II 2, Dromore II 3: Ballymena hosted Dromore at the Showgrounds on Saturday knowing this would be their toughest match yet of the season, with both teams occupying the top two slots in the league table.
Dromore certainly didn’t disappoint taking the play to Ballymena in the early stages, but as the game went on it was Ballymena who held possession of the ball.
The first goal of the game eventually came from a Dromore short corner, which beat the Ballymena defence into the right hand corner of the goal.
Ballymena counter attacked but just couldn’t break through the Dromore back line and at the break Ballymena were 1-0 down.
At the restart both teams resumed the fight, but Ballymena managed to peg their visitors back with a strike from Lorna Murphy for 1-1.
However, another penalty corner for Dromore saw them take the lead again with a shot deflected into the corner for 2-1.
More woes followed after Dromore were awarded a penalty flick after a shot on goal was stopped on the line, but the Dromore forward pulled the flick wide, much to Ballymena’s relief!
Seizing on this Ballymena again levelled the score through Natalie McMullan, who cheeky flick over the Dromore keeper brought it to 2-2.
With time running out Ballymena searched in vain for the match winner, but it was Dromore who took the advantage from a counter attack and scored to take the victory 3-2 in a nail biting finish.
The team would like to thank Trevor Topping for umpiring.
Seconds: K. Richmond(GK), A. Harbinson, N. Greer(C), H. Dickey, K. Kealey, L. McClintock, K. McMaster, S. Reid, L. Murphy, L. Logan, A. Logan, N. McMullan, K. Aiken, E. Clarke, R. Murphy.
Ballymena III 1, Queen’s IV 5: Ballymena hosted a very experienced squad of Queens’ students on a miserable Friday night at the Showgrounds.
From the initial whistle the visitors showed their true intent and thrust forward at every opportunity.
Queen’s used their rolling substitute routine to good effect, and went two goals up with a couple of well worked opportunities, drawing the Ballymena defenders and using their skill to make telling passes into the “D”.
Some excellent passages of play, fresh from Tuesday night’s training session, rewarded Ballymena with a goal when Emma Clarke provided the key pass to Julie Kernohan to make it 2-1 at halftime.
The visitors started the second half in a similar fashion to the first with wave upon wave of attack on the Ballymena goal, which afforded Queen’s even more space as the Ballymena ladies tired!
However, to their credit, the girls stood up time and time again to the onslaught and counter attacked with numbers in an attempt to balance the play.
The tides turned midway through the half with another couple of quick goals from Queens which put the game beyond the home side and a fifth goal, near the end was the icing on the cake.
Those who dared to watch the game from the sidelines commented on the resolve and determination of this developing home team.
The score line did not reflect the effort put into the game and perhaps with some extra luck and more accuracy in front of goal the result might have been more favourable.
Player of the match was Emma Clarke and the team would like to thanks Trevor Topping for umpiring in the terrible conditions.
Thirds: L. Hanna (GK), E. Clarke , J. Kernohan N. Sloane, K. Johnston, R. Reid, J. Lowry (C),
C. Law, E. Johnston, L. Logan, V. Cooper, L. McClintock, R. McPeake
Result: Ballymena IV 0, Malone 1.
Ballymena 8, Downpatrick 1: Ballymena emphatically beat Downpatrick at the weekend, backing up last week’s comprehensive victory against Parkview.
Ballymena struggled early on against the negative tactics Down employed, playing everybody behind the ball, which frustrated Ballymena, but nerves were soon settled by Chris Hogg who finished off a short corner low and hard into the bottom corner for an early lead.
This inspired Ballymena’s play and they quickly doubled their lead through Alex McKeown finishing off a nice move at the back post.
Down pulled a goal back mid way through the first half as Ballymena searched for more goals and were caught napping at the back.
However, Ballymena’s two goal lead was restored by Lorimer and Ballymena went into the half time break leading 3-1.
Further goals in the second half by Fulton, Tumilson and a hatrick by Andrew McKelvey, who fully deserved all three goals after another impressive performance, sealed a well deserved win against a frustrated Down side whose heads dropped the longer the game went on.
All credit to Ballymena who kept plugging away and reaped the rewards with another dominant victory.
Special thanks to Dave Bradley and Trevor Topping for stepping in to umpire at the last minute!
Ballymena: E. Hampton(GK), C. Hogg(C), A. Crooks V. Orr, A. Bell, C. Fulton, A. McKelvey, M. O’Neill, G. Tumilson, A. Lorimer, A. McKeown, D. McDonald