By Lauren Brown
The 1stXI kick started their 2013-14 campaign with a Senior Cup fixture against Victorians at Comber on Wednesday night.
The game started with a high tempo with both teams clearly up for the challenge. It was a fairly even contest early on with a number of chances at either end of the pitch. Chrissie McKee in nets, on her 1st XI debut, did well to keep Vic’s shots out.
However, a lapse in concentration from North Down allowed the opposition to go 1-0 up with a reverse shot from the top of the circle. This brought the home team to life once again and North Down piled the pressure on Victorians defence. Their persistence and good passing hockey paid off when Bex Mitchell’s shot was saved by the keeper for Barbara Moles to put in the rebound bringing the score to one a piece. North Down kept up their impressive play and created more chances. This appeared to unnerve the opposition causing them to make errors and resulting in a green card for the Victorians captain for back chat to the umpire. North down capitalised on their one player advantage by winning a series of short corners, one of which was deflected home by Bethan Brittain on the left post. Pacey runs from Shannen White and Rachel Lucas upfront caused the Victorians defence problems as did our midfielders breaking through.
Nearing the end of the first half, Victorians brought the score back to 2-2 after North Down struggled to clear the ball from their circle. There was still time left for one more break by North Down. A long ball for Lucas to run onto left her through on goal only for her to be brought to the ground unlawfully by the Vic keeper. Penalty stroke to North Down. Unfortunately, this was put wide by Clarke just as the half time whistle went.
After a few positional changes at half time which saw Lauren Brown switch to left midfield and Selina Lewis slot back into the defence, the next 35 minutes got underway. North Down took control of the game from the offset with Laura Clarke controlling the midfield effectively. The home team allowed their opposition no time on the ball and worked hard all over the pitch. Tensions were high as the umpires warned of a straight yellow for any indiscipline but North Down kept their heads and let their hockey do the talking. The next goal came when Mitchell got hold of the ball on the halfway line and used her speed to outrun the defender, once again setting up Moles to slot the ball home and get her second of the night bringing the score to 3-2. With North Down in their stride and playing some great hockey, they created more chances and won a number of corners- good signs for the season ahead! Victorians were kept at bay by the hard working defence. North Down secured their victory when Clarke made no mistake in front of goal and smashed the ball home to leave the final score 4-2. A deserved win for the home side.
Players of the match: Bex Mitchell and Lauren Brown
The ladies next game is against Cookstown in the Senior Cup this Saturday at Comber LC. Game starts at 1pm. Thank you to all who showed their support on Wednesday night, it is very welcome once again at the weekend.