Ballymena Hockey Club ladies’ First Xi maintained their hopes of a top four finish with an important 1-0 win over Banbridge on Saturday.
From the start Ballymena looked the better team, playing the ball through midfield, where Reynolds, Taggart and Emma Gillespie were a formidable force.
Taggart penetrated the Banbridge defence on several occasions and this finally paid off when she played the ball to Clare Gillespie on the edge of the circle, who moved towards the goal before passing to Storey who coolly slipped ball past the keeper for an early 1-0 lead.
Banbridge rose to the challenge and used their fast paced forwards to take the game to Ballymena but they were denied by a strong defensive line up, who refused to crumble under the pressure and duly held onto their lead at the break.
In a second half more reminiscent of a winter fairy tale, Ballymena continued to show their defensive resilience as Banbridge threw all they had at the home side!
In the last ten minutes Ballymena proved worthy of the win as time and again they denied Banbridge and in the end held out for maximum points in a fantastic game and fantastic result for the Ballymena girls.
Ballymena: J Logan (GK), N Greer, S Morrison, C McCracken, V Hogg, H Taggart, R Reynolds, C Gillespie (C), S Storey, K Young, E King, E Gillespie.
Carrickfergus II 4, Ballymena II 0: Ballymena Seconds travelled to Carrick to take on a team playing in Senior Two in the Qualifying Plate.
From the whistle Ballymena found themselves under immense pressure but initial strong defending did keep the Carrick attacks at bay, until the first goal eventually came from a Carrick open play move.
A second soon followed before Ballymena sparked into gear and finally got Amy Logan off and running, but a quick keeper kept Carrick two up
Just before the break Carrick again showed their dominance of the half, as an unmarked player took the ball ahead of the Ballymena keeper to tuck it away for 3-0 to Carrick at half time.
Moments from the end Carrick were awarded a penalty corner after a strong save from the young Ballymena keeper and duly converted with a first time strike to take the game 4-0. Thanks to Hugh Ramsey for travelling to umpire for the team.
Seconds: L Hanna (GK), A Harbinson H Dickey, K Kealey, L McClintock(C), N McMullan, E Clarke, L Logan, A Logan, K Aiken, R Murphy, L Murphy, K McMaster.
Ballymena III 1, Annadale III 0: Ballymena hosted Annadale on a cold and wet Showgrounds on Saturday and quickly set to work holding play in the away teams half for the first 15 minutes where Sarah Montgomery, Lauren Kennedy and Vicky Cooper all had chances at goal.
Daena Lipsett and Rachel Reid made a number of strong tackles as Annadale attacked down the flanks and the partnership of Jenny Sutherland and Nicola Sloane shut the door to any attacks through the middle but by the break neither team had made any impact on the game.
Ballymena started strongly at the restart with Charlene Lorimer causing problems for Annadale. Following some strong mid-field play, the ball fell to Montgomery in the “D” who reacted quickly to jab the ball past the advancing ‘keeper. The team would like to thank Joanne Logan for umpiring the game.
Thirds: K Richmond(GK), N Sloane, D Lipsett, J Sutherland, R Reid, C Lorimer, E Johnston, J Lowry (C), L Kennedy, S Montgomery, V Cooper, J Duncan, L McClintock.
Down 3, Ballymena 2: Ballymena travelled to Malone Park at Downpatrick to play a Down 1st XI team on their home gravel pitch, never well–liked by the Ballymena men!
However, things started well as Lorimer found Moody unmarked at the far post to give Ballymena a deserved 1-0 lead. Towards the half time break though, Down finally found the target twice to convert two scrappy goals for a 2-1 half time lead and turn the game completely.
Ballymena came out determined in the second half to take the game to Down but things got worse, as the home side stretched their lead to 3-1 despite the best efforts of Birrell in goal. With time running out, Linford pulled a goal back with a low drive into the bottom corner, but Ballymena couldn’t convert any further chances.
Ballymena: J Birrell (GK), C Hogg (C), A Crooks, D McDonald, A Linford, T Lowry, A Bell, M O’Neill, M Allison, A Lorimer, P Moody.