North Down kept up their recent good form and results with a relatively easy win at neighbours Civil Service on Saturday. There was panic before the game as three players were struggling to make it for the one o’clock start but Coach Davy Frazer made a few panic phone calls and Ali Millar answered the SOS call.
The game started with North Down struggling to keep hold of the ball. Poor control and passing gave Civil Service some hope for progress in the game. A number of chances were created by the North Down forwards which left one on ones with the opposition keeper, but again as recently, the wrong option was picked and the keeper cleared the ball away to safety. Civil Service won three penalty corners in quick succession but these were dealt with easily. With the score 0-0 at half time, a couple of positional and tactical changes were made and this made the difference for the visitors. Rebecca Mitchell-Cram reverted to her usual position up front and this change proved the catalyst for the win.
North Down scored their first goal five minutes into the second half. Good team play down the left from Selina Lewis, Lauren Brown and Rachel Lucas resulted in Laura Clarke finding herself in space with only the keeper to beat and the veteran midfielder slotted the ball calmly past her to score. The lead was soon doubled. A short corner broke down but Rachel Lucas backing up found Mitchell-Cram free at the top of the circle and she pushed the ball into the corner of the net. This goal seemed to relax the North Down girls and they began to play with more freedom and style. With plenty of North Down forward substitutions, the Civil Service defence began to tire and this enabled the visitors to create more chances. One such chance resulted in the rewarding of a penalty stroke. Laura Clarke found Rachel Lucas in space on the right. Her run along the base line gave Lauren Brown a chance to score but she could only play the ball against a defender’s foot on the goal line. Umpire Huddlestone was unsighted, but Umpire Edwards was on hand to give the penalty stroke. Laura Clarke stepped up and made it 3-0 with a calm finish into the bottom corner.
There was still time for one more chance for North Down. Tasha Adamson somehow hit the post with an open goal in front of her, the rebound fell for Abbie Trimble but she again missed the open goal and shot over. Will she get an easier chance to get her first goal for the club!! The final whistle came and North Down were delighted at beating their neighbours and all but sending them down to Senior 2.
This was another great performance from the team and a clean sheet to boot with keeper Chrissie McKee not having to make a save all game. North Down entertain Ballymena this Saturday at 1.00 pm in Comber and another three points is crucial if they want to continue their rise up the league.
Joint Players of the Match: Laura Clarke and Rebecca Mercer