Ballymena Hockey Club round-up: Men’s First XI in eight-goal thriller
BALLYMENA Men’s First XI battled out a thrilling 4-4 draw with Parkview during the week.
The trying weather conditions seemed to take its toll on Ballymena early on, as did the fact that they were still match weary from their league tie on Saturday.
Despite a sterling display in defence Parkview soon broke the deadlock with a strike from an acute angle which found the back of the net, despite the best efforts of Hampton in goal.
It has to be said that both this and their second goal, which followed shortly was entirely with the run of play, in contrast to a Ballymena side who simply failed to take advantage of the meagre opportunities which their forwards carved out, in the rare occasions when they ventured into the Parkview half.
Ballymena regrouped at half time, got off to a much brighter start and their determination was soon rewarded from a penalty stroke, by Paddy McKeown.
On the counter then Parkview managed to score again, under somewhat disputed circumstances, when it appeared the ball was bundled over the goal line off the foot of a Parkview forward.
Credit then to Ballymena who sucked in their disappointment and responded with their second goal when, following a scathing run by Paddy McKeown, the ball was laid off to Matt O’Neill who calmly slotted home Ballymena’s second goal but it appeared as if it was all over then when Parkview scored their fourth goal.
The visitors weren’t finished though and hope was restored when Tim Lowry found the Parkview defence napping and smashed the ball into the backboards to set up a frantic final 10 minutes.
Somehow, out of nothing, and probably against the run of play Ballymena equalised, snatched a draw and a point, courtesy of a superb reverse stick shot from Alex McKeown to make it 4-4!
Credit to Ballymena for their ‘never say die’ attitude which ultimately saw them through when, at times, their situation seemed nothing short of hopeless.
Ballymena: Eddie Hampton, Chris Hogg (capt), Andrew Bell, Andrew Shields, Al Donald, Andrew Crooks, Alex McKeown, Patrick McKeown, Tim Lowry, Tory Alexander, Andrew McKelvey, Matt O’Neill, Aaron Murphy.
Ballymena II 1, Dromore II 0: From the off Ballymena were pressing the Dromore defence hard and while Lynsey McClintock was magnificent on the left wing, the support network wasn’t there to finish off the attack.
The visitors had pace on the break and set about probing the Ballymena defence, which had to react quickly if they weren’t going to concede an early goal.
The hosts managed to stave off the Dromore onslaught and their midfield, in the form of Suzanne Morrison, Lynsey McClintock and Sharon Reid played them out of immediate danger with their no nonsense and physical style of hockey.
Play continued for the rest of the half with each side, in turn, having a go and wining equal number of penalty corners to no avail as the half played out scoreless.
In the second half, the hosts developed a sense of urgency and a speculative shot at goal was just saved and no more.
The hosts were now concentrating their efforts in the Dromore ‘D’ and their determination was finally rewarded. In this case it was Sharon Reid, the self-appointed play maker, who with an inch perfect pass found Lynsey McClintock. The resulting strike at goal, although on target, had the pace taken out of it by the Dromore keeper but fortunately Lorna Murphy was perfectly placed to slot the ball home for a well-deserved 1-0 lead.
Dromore countered and it was left to the Ballymena keeper, Laura Logan, who came off best from a ‘one on one’ with a Dromore forward, to foil an attempt at goal and protect the host’s precious advantage.
Seconds: Laura Logan, Kirsty McMaster, Ashleigh Harbison, Nicola Greer, Grace McBurney, Sarah Cundell, Suzanne Morrison, Lynsey McClintock, Sharon Reid, Lorna Murphy, Aimee Logan, Stephanie Storey, Catherine McCracken.
Ballymena III 2, Annadale II 1: Ballymena Thirds hosted Annadale Seconds at the Showgrounds badly needing 3 points to stave off relegation fears, with only one league tie remaining.
Ballymena worked the ball deep into Annadale territory and managed to take the lead following excellent work on the right flank from Lynsey McClintock who forced a short corner that Nicola Greer duly dispatched.
Just before the half an Annadale break caught the hosts on the hop when their centre forward rounded Russell and managed to push the ball beyond the reach of the Ballymena keeper to snatch an equaliser.
Following a blazing run down the touch line, McClintock squared the ball top circle for Nicola Greer to strike at goal and score a Ballymena second as they emerged victorious with a massive 3 points to boost their chances of staying in Junior 5.
Thanks to Phil Moody for umpiring.
Thirds: Lauren Hanna(GK), Elaine Huey, Liz O’Kane, Sandra Dallas(C), Clara Duffy, Stephanie Storey, Laura Logan, Mandy McCombe, Sam Russell, Joanne McKay, Lynsey McClintock, Kirsty McMaster, Nicola Greer.
Ballymena IV 1, Holywood II 1 (Holywood won 4-2 on penalty flicks): Ballymena Ladies 4th XI played their second round plate match against Holywood II on a soggy gravel pitch at the Academy on Saturday, which made for a very difficult and at times exciting game.
It was the home side who were first to realized that short strikes were the order of the day and that running with the ball meant easy dispossession.
Initial chances for Ballymena’s Karen Cherry and Alison Marshall were smothered by the away team’s defence although a break with ten minutes of the half remaining, saw Ballymena to defend strongly only to concede a goal just before half time.
Following the restart a rejuvenated Ballymena pushed forward and pressured the Holywood defence. Good link play from Elaine Huey, Magee and Charlotte Andrews on the right flank resulted in a good run into the circle and a thunderous shot saw Andrews beat the keeper at the near post and level the game.
With no further scoring, the ‘silver goal’ rule was brought into play but still the stalemate could not be broken as the game went to penalty flicks.
In the first two rounds, Holywood’s keeper saved both Ballymena attempts, while their strikers scored twice to take a commanding 2-0 lead. However, McKay’s goal and two further saves by Lauren Hanna threw the team a lifeline, with 3 flicks to go!
Missing their 4th Ballymena watched as Keeper Hanna got a pad to Holywood’s final flick, but sheer pace took the ball over the line in the end to the bitter disappointment of a spent home side!
Despite the defeat, his was easily the Fourths’ best game of the season and testament to their improvement as a team over the last six weeks.
The team would like to thanks Debbie Campbell for umpiring.
Fourths: Lauren Hanna(GK), Elaine Huey, Sandra Dallas, Alison Marshall, Karen Cherry, Joanne McKay, Liz O’Kane, Charlotte Andrews, Imogen Magee, Judith Morrow , Ruth Andrews, Kathryn Kealey, Claire McKendry.