Ballymena Hockey CLub First XI’s hopes of claiming a promotion place suffered another frustrating setback at the weekend.
Mary Glass’s side were held to a second successive scorless draw - this time at home by Grosvenor - as they chase second spot in Senior League One.
Grosvenor started the better of the two sides putting pressure on the home defence, with Joanne Logan managing to keep the score line level with a couple of crucial saves.
Ballymena stepped up their game with attacking play through Jessica Duncan and Holly Taggart linking well in midfield to get the ball into the circle resulting in two penalty corners for Ballymena, but they couldn’t beat the Grosvenor keeper.
In the second half Ballymena came out fighting playing excellent hockey in all areas of the pitch but at times Ballymena just weren’t clinical enough in front of goal.
Some indiscipline from the Ballymena girls led to a series of cards that allowed Grosvenor to regroup and attack in the final five minutes of the game, but Ballymena continued to defend to the end and kept the game scoreless to gain a vital league point.
Ballymena: J. Davis(GK), G. McBurney, C. McCracken, E. Alexander, A. Logan, E. Gillespie, H. Taggart, J. Duncan, C. Gillespie, E. King, K. Young, A. Logan.
Dromore 1, Ballymena II 0: Just before half time Dromore, made the break through in this McConnell Shield tie after Ballymena lost possession of the ball in midfield.
At the start of the second half Nicola Greer found an unmarked Lorna Murphy at the edge of the circle but unfortunately her pass inside to Kerry Aiken was just too far ahead and went wide of the post.
With 10 minutes to go Ballymena went with 3 at the back and play 4 up front and really for the first time in the game the forwards more involved and looked dangerous and they were unlucky not to score.
Seconds: L. Hanna(GK), N. Greer, S. Montgomery, K. Aiken(C), L. Murphy, G. McCready, S. Nicholl, H. Dickey, R. Murphy, N. Rea, L. McClintock, E. Anderson, S. Storey.
Ballymena III 1, Annadale II 1 (Annadale won 2-0 on penalty flicks): Both teams played determined hockey from the start of this Junior Plate match and if anything Ballymena had the slight edge. However, chances from Laura Logan and Beth Hampton went unconverted, much to Ballymena’s annoyance as moments from the end of the first half Annadale broke the deadlock to take a 1-0 lead at the break!
Finally, a penalty corner close to full time, saw Julie Kernohan score from a reverse hit to take the match into extra time!
Two periods of extra time saw more opportunities for both teams to score, with Gillian Mann coming closest, but in the end neither team could convert and the game continued to penalty flicks.
The flicks were a nervous affair with both team’s players hitting the posts in the opening round. It was Annadale to score first as their keeper followed up with two saves, before a second score gave the match to Annadale.
Thanks to Eddie Hampton and Alister Hanna for umpiring.
Thirds: R. Jones(GK), L. Burrows, E. Johnston(c), A. Harbinson, E. Spiers, R. Reid, S. Montgomery, N. Sloan, L. Logan, G. Mann, B. Hampton, J. Kernohan.
Ballymena 8, Belfast Harlequins III 1: Early Harlequins pressure was soon released when Alex McKeown scored from a powerful strike to leave the home side reeling, before a second was added from Andy Lorimer. Ballymena continued to press and Craig Davis with a great strike left the Harlequins keeper no chance for a Ballymena third. Davis then turned provider to unselfishly square the ball to Orr to make it 4-0. Davis again scored on the reverse flicking it over the helpless Harlequins goalkeeper to make it 5-0 to top off a great half for the Braid men.
The hosts started brightly again at the start of the second half however Ballymena’s defence stood firm resisting any attacks. Eventually the Quin’s pressure told when a long ball to the back post was edged in leaving the hosts with a slight chance of a comeback.
That was soon quashed as McKeown scored two further goals to put the game out of sight and claim his hat-trick! The game was closed out with a fine goal from Lorimer who one on one against the keeper, beat him easily and slotted the ball into an empty net. Thanks to Becky Linford for umpiring.
Ballymena: K. McConaghie (GK), G. Tumilson, A. Criooks, V. Orr, A. Linford, M. Monteith, M. Allison, C. Fulton, M. O’Neill, A. McKeown, A. Lorimer, C. Davis, P. McKeown.
PSNI 5, Ballymena II 0: PSNI proved too strong for the Ballymena side, running out comfortable winners.