By Lauren Brown
After a disappointing 4-0 defeat to Portadown in their first league game on Saturday, the ladies First XI travelled to Banbridge on Wednesday for their final match in the group stage of the Senior Cup. They hoped for a good performance after Saturday and more importantly a win to see them through to the semi finals.
The game was of a high intensity on the fast water based pitch which suited North Down’s style of play. The Banbridge side, who are newly promoted to Senior One, did well however to keep hold of the ball on their home turf. North down were happy to let them knock the ball about in their own half as they didn’t pose any danger to Chrissie McKee’s goal.
The first goal came to North Down on the counter attack. They won the ball back in their defending 25 and within ten seconds Bex Mitchell had surged through the middle of the pitch setting up Shannen White in the circle to put the ball in the back of the net.
Within about ten minutes, Banbridge brought the score back to 1-1 after some scrappy hockey at the goal mouth with North Down failing to clear the ball. The game proceeded at a quick pace. Banbridge’s best player was kept quiet by Ulster U18 Rebecca Mercer at right back who did well in this new position. North Down continued to pressurise Banbridge and took the lead again when Olivia Brown slotted the ball home with her first touch in the game. At the restart, the travelling side took no time to get stuck back in and keep up the momentum. Olivia Brown won a short corner after picking up a ball into the circle from sister, Lauren at right mid. From the corner, Mitchell’s strike was saved by the keeper but Barbara Moles was on hand to score the rebound and add another to her goal tally, leaving the score 3-1 at half time.
After coach Frazer’s half time team talk, North Down were determined to retain their lead in the second half. They started off creating as many chances as they had in the first 35 minutes, however just not converting them. Banbridge got a goal back when they scored from a penalty corner 15 minutes into the half. North Down had to work hard to stay in control of the game. Their defence stood strong whilst the attack won a number of corners but none amounted to anything. Resilient under pressure from the home side, North Down did well and saw the game out. Final score 3-2 to North Down which should be good enough to see the ladies into the semi final of the Senior Cup.
Players of the match: Rebecca Mercer and Selina Lewis
The first XI turn their attention back to the league tomorrow in their 2.30 fixture v Ballyclare at Comber LC.