After a narrow late defeat to Lurgan last Saturday, the ladies 1sts welcomed Queens to Comber on Saturday with quiet confidence. North Down knew what they were capable of but with the absence of their captain Laura Clarke and Queens currently sitting second in the table, the Comber girls knew they would have to work hard to get a result.
North Down started the game off rather nervously losing possession on numerous occasions in their own half which allowed the visitors to win an early short corner however they failed to convert. This brought the home side to life and after some good attacking play down the right hand side from Emma Hill, the ball found its way through to older sister and Captain Katherine Hill who coolly slotted the ball home over the advancing keeper. Confidence was brimming now within the North Down team after taking the lead and they continued to play flowing hockey, passing the ball quickly from one end of the pitch to the other before Katharine Hill rounded off some nice team play with her second goal of the day. The opposite could be said for Queens who were clearly frustrated at the score line with their centre midfielder picking up a green card for dissent. Failure from the Queens defence to clear the ball from a hit out, allowed Katherine Hill to capitalise on their mistake and complete a fantastic first half hat trick with a reverse shot from the top of the circle. 3-0 up at half time reflected the hard work and excellent team play from North Down.
In the second half, after their coaches had had an opportunity to reorganise their side, Queens came out fighting not wanting to be beaten by the newly promoted North Down. They created a few chances which North Down dealt with accordingly determined to keep a clean sheet. Ali Adams used her speed to create a 1v1 only to be taken out by the visiting goalkeeper who injured herself in the process and had to exit the game. A short corner was awarded when a penalty stroke looked to be the more obvious decision. With the game delayed for 10 minutes for the injury and to allow Queens to kit up another player, North Down had the chance to regroup. They won a series of short corners which took the pressure off their defence however they were well defended by Queens. The visitors really upped the pressure in the final 15 minutes winning a series of short corners, one which was converted at the right post after goalkeeper Trish Neill had initially saved the first shot. North Down began to panic and lost their discipline with 3 separate sin binnings and were reduced to 9 players at a point as Bethan Brittain was yellow carded for a tackle then Katharine Hill was also yellow carded as captain after dissent from one of her team mates. However despite the frantic end to the game North Down were able to see the game out and get their first win of their Premier League campaign. Full time 3-1
Report by Lauren Brown