Lurgan maintained their 100% win record with this narrow but deserved victory over local rivals Portadown at Edenvilla on Saturday.
The game might have been played in miserable conditions with driving rain throughout but the action on the pitch was anything but. Both teams were obviously up for this derby encounter as the match started at a frantic pace.
The visitors should have taken the lead in the second minute after a superb run and cross by Emily McStea created a great shooting opportunity but when the Lurgan striker took an extra touch to guarantee a perfect strike, it allowed the Portadown defence the extra second they needed to close her down and block the shot.
Lurgan began to get the upper hand and they dominated possession for the first quarter but Portadown were well organised and put up stiff resistance.
Lurgan switched their line of attack to try and work an opening and midfielder Carly Johnston was creating particular problems for the home team with her determined runs down the left flank.
Lurgan did manage to create a couple more half chances in the first 20 minutes but they couldn’t convert either of these.
The deadlock was broken with six minutes to go to half time when Charlene Hull converted Lurgan’s first penalty corner of the match with a well-placed strike.
Far from settling the away team down they looked nervous and jittery in possession and Portadown took full advantage when they converted their first penalty corner award with a fierce strike that gave Susie Taylor in the Lurgan goal no chance with only one minute to half time.
The second half began with Lurgan again on the offensive and good build up play from Sarah McClure on the edge of the Portadown circle created a shooting opportunity for midfield partner Emma Lindsay but her strike was off target.
Undeterred the visitors pressed forward in search of the winner but the home side packed their defence and Lurgan were finding it difficult to break them down.
As the game wore on Lurgans quest for a winner became more urgent but they didn’t help their cause by failing to convert a series of penalty corner awards with some poor routines and indifferent shooting.
With only five minutes to go the scores were still tied but there was still time for three more penalty corner awards for Lurgan as the home side’s tactics were testing the umpire’s patience.
With the very last play of the match Lurgan thought they had scored but the ball was stopped on the line by a defender’s foot. The umpires rightly awarded a penalty stroke and striker Kathryn Edgar proved the hero of the day as she stepped forward and coolly despatched the strike against the backboard to seal the win for her side.
With six wins from their first six league matches the action switches to Deramore on Friday night for a top of the table clash with Belfast Harlequins.