North Down Ladies 1stXI came away from Cookstown with a win for the first time in five seasons, a win that was thoroughly deserved as the Comber side dominated the match throughout.
With a couple of players unavailable, the thirteen that made the trip all performed well in the 4-2 success.
The game started with North Down putting pressure on the Cookstown defence, closing their players down quickly and giving them no time on the ball. A couple of half chances went by and as has happened on several occasions this season, North Down fell behind this time to a penalty corner which the defence corner team will be disappointed to concede.
An injury to key player Bethan Brittain halted proceedings for five minutes. The midfielder accidentally collidided with a Cookstown players stick and received a nasty gash above her right eye. Thankfully first aid was on hand in the teams new doctor Beth Frazer! The game restarted with North Down continuing to press high up the pitch. Cookstown were struggling with the pace of North Downs forward line and continuously broke down play which went unpunished by the umpire.
At half time there were whispers that the game could be abandoned due to the pitch freezing over, but the North Down coach and team were confident that they could go on to win the game, as long as they stayed composed and became clinical in front of goal.
Within five minutes North Down were level. Laura Clarke scoring after good play from Captain Rebecca Mitchell and Rebecca Mercer, with the latter displaying a mature performance against very physical opponents.
Unfortunately from the restart Cookstown went up the pitch and scored a sceptical goal to take the lead again. Twice there were high sticks in the North Down circle but these went unpunished by the umpire, and Cookstown scored from the second ‘baseball’ swing! This seemed to flick a switch in the North Down team. Although the team weren’t playing badly, from that moment it was the best twenty five minutes of hockey the team have produced all season. Rebecca Mitchell scored a contender for goal of the season with a deflection high into the net from a great through ball from Andrea Mockford. Amy Benson scored after beating three or four defenders to make the score 3-2 and then Barbara Moles finished of a great team move up the left side to make it 4-2. Amy had a couple more chances as North Down continued to attack, sensing that there were more goals to be had, but the Cookstown keeper, there best player, kept everything out.
So the game finished at 4-2. A result which was very pleasing given our previous results in Cookstown.
From back to front the team performed brilliantly. Adrienne was her usual commanding self, Lauren Brown controlled the defensive team of Rachel Hutchison, Rachel Mornin and Selina Lewis, and was very composed in her play. The midfield of Clarkie, Andrea and Rebecca Mercer (including Bethan until injury cut short her game) kept the tempo of the game high and supported the defence and attack throughout the 70 minutes. Up front Amy, Bex, Olivia and Barbara were a constant threat with their pace and movement and link up play.
Next weeks brings the toughest match to date with league favourites Lisnagarvey coming to Comber for a 2.30 start. With the Ladies playing some of the best hockey in the league, why not come along and support the team. They would love a full house against the league leaders.
Player(s) of the match vs Cookstown……. Lauren Brown and Rebecca Mitchell.