Disappointing display brings run to an end

Lurgan's Sarah McClure. INLM44-709.
Lurgan's Sarah McClure. INLM44-709.

Lurgan lost their unbeaten league record with this disappointing reversal to Belfast Harlequins at home last Saturday.

With Harlequins just having been promoted last season this would have been one of the fixtures Lurgan would have been targeting to get full points from, but unfortunately it was the visitors who left with all three points.

Opening exchanges were even but Lurgan began to gradually take control of possession and midfielder Sarah McClure almost scored on 13 minutes when she burst into the Quins circle and fired her shot just wide.

One minute later Lurgan were stunned when Quinns took the lead with their only penalty corner of the match. A straight forward strike was unfortunately deflected off a defenders stick giving Naomi Costly in the Lurgan goal no chance.

Lurgan went in search of an equaliser and their pressure won them two penalty corners on 20 and 24 minutes but, one was deflected off a foot and the other was well saved by the keeper.

Lurgan should have equalised on 26 minutes but the final shot of a neat move went inches wide of a post.

After the break Quinns almost added to their lead with their only meaningful attack of the half but Costly pulled off a great stop when faced with a one on one with the striker.

Lurgan still pressed forward and a Sarah McClure strike at a fifth minute penalty corner was again deflected off a foot and the resultant re-take was saved by the keeper.

Zoe Hawthorne thought she was set to score three minutes later when a strike rising into the net was palmed away by the keeper.

Lurgan have had a spate of injuries recently with Emma Quinn and Pippa Best already out, Emma Lindsay was forced to retire with a back injury and Louise Murray, who had another great match, playing through the pain barrier.

This situation has meant the promotion of Ulster under 16 stars Kathryn Edgar and Kerri Burns into the senior panel and they both showed what an asset they are going to be with their contributions at the weekend.

Lurgan spent the rest of the half probing for openings in the Quinns defence in search of that elusive equaliser stubbornly as Lurgan mounted attack after attack. Their last opportunity came with a penalty corner award three minutes from time, but the strike was saved and cleared.