League leaders Portadown made the journey to Comber last Saturday hoping to continue their unbeaten start to the season whilst North Down were determined to get something from this match after a disappointing performance the previous week in Cookstown. Shannen White had recovered from an injury scare during the week to keep her place in the match day squad.
North Down won the toss and attacked the Portadown defence straight from the first whistle. Portadown withstood the pressure for five minutes and on their first attack scored. Their stand out player on the left wing received the ball on the half way line and beat a couple of North Down players before unleashing a reverse stick shot which Chrissie McKee got a hand to but just couldn’t keep out. Their lead was soon doubled with a close range finish after a goal mouth scramble. The rest of the first half was an even affair until the last minute when Tasha Adamson found herself unmarked at the back post and slotted the ball home only for the umpire to see it hit her foot on the way into the goal.
With a positive half time team talk, North Down were determined to get back into the game quickly. A couple of penalty corners were awarded but Portadown defended them well and cleared the ball to safety. With ten minutes of the second half gone the game took an unexpected twist, the floodlights went out!! Ten minutes passed without any joy in getting them on again and players’ safety was now the main concern for North Down as it was already dark. However, Portadown, with a two goal lead, and the two officials were determined that the game continued, much to the surprise of the home team and the supporters in the gathering gloom. Would it be a decision they would regret?!
The mini break seemed to gee the home team and they finished the game on top. With Laura Clarke bossing midfield and the forwards making great runs into space, Portadown were at sixes and sevens! Clarke had a chance from the top of the circle but completely missed the ball, perhaps the lack of light was an issue! The final chance of the game came after a great run from Rebecca Mitchell-Cram. She crossed for Rachel Lucas who hit a wonderful first time goal bound shot only for the ball to hit a Portadown player in the face. With North Down in the darkness expecting a penalty stroke, a free out was given for dangerous play. It clearly, or not so clearly, wasn’t going to be North Down’s day and the final score finished 2-0 to Portadown. Next up is a trip to Ballyclare before the Christmas break.
Joint Players of the Match: Laura Clarke and Bethan Brittain.