North Down welcomed Omagh to Comber Leisure Centre last Saturday in what was to prove a difficult but satisfying and deserving win for the Comber girls. Yet again, both umpires were provided by the two teams as the UHU were unable to supply panel officials.
North Down dominated the first half but only managed to score one goal which came from a straight strike at a penalty corner from captain Bex Mitchell-Cram. North Down created numerous other chances but were off target or else shot straight at the Omagh ‘keeper. At half-time the focus was to continue the good work and get an early second goal.
They did just that as within five minutes of the re-start another penalty corner was scored by Bethan Brittain. At this North Down should have pressed home their advantage and gone on to score more, but Omagh upped their game and for the remainder of the match North Down were on the back foot. Moments after North Down had scored their second goal, Omagh thought they had pulled a goal back but eagle eye umpiring from Paul Johnston noticed the ball had hit an Omagh player’s foot just before she hit it into the net. This should have been a let off and warning for North Down but they were unable to make good use of possession and kept giving the ball back to Omagh. With 15 minutes to go Omagh got back into the game with a controversial goal. The initial shot was lifted towards goal and hit Rachel Hutchison on the face but the umpire let play continue and an unmarked Omagh player slotted the ball home much to the annoyance of the North Down defence as they thought it was dangerous play.
Pamela Johnston, who has been unavailable for first eleven duty for nearly two years made a welcome return to action with ten minutes of the match left and her experience could prove vital for the rest of the season. Omagh won one last penalty corner but great defence from Mitchell-Cram to block the first shot and then ‘keeper Chrissie McKee to clear the rebound meant North Down held on for all three points and continue their climb up the table.
A great defensive display in the second half proved the catalyst for the win. The ladies travel to neighbours Civil Service who sit bottom of the table next Saturday with a 1pm start.
Players of the Match: Rachel Hutchison and Rebecca Mercer