Lucy snatches vital point for Lurgan

LURGAN 1 QUEEN’S 1

LURGAN and Queen’s served up a thrilling encounter before a decent crowd in this table top match at the Junior High school last Saturday.

Lurgan started the more positive of the two sides putting the students under pressure in the early exchanges. A 10th minute penalty corner for the home side was well saved by the Queen’s keeper and her defence managed to clear the re-bound before the in-rushing Lurgan forwards. Lurgan continued to apply the pressure and were unlucky not to take the lead from another penalty corner five minutes later when the Queen’s keeper just managed to get a touch on a Charlene Hull pile-driver and deflect it inches past the post.

Things were looking good for Lurgan as they had gained control of midfield, dominated possession and were starving the dangerous fast breaking Queens forward-line of any time on the ball. Unfortunately for Lurgan the Queen’s defence were standing strong and having one of those days when the break of the ball was going their way. Lurgan were unlucky on a number of occasions and really should have taken the lead from a great break in the 20th minute but the final pass was never made and a golden opportunity had disappeared. Sarah McClure , Bethany Barr and Carly Johnston were controlling the centre of the park and the speed of Jo-Anne Wilson and Lucy McKee were unsettling the usually composed Queens defence. Several further incursions into the Queen’s circle resulted in some hurried tackles and frantic clearances but only one shot on target which was again saved and cleared. Queen’s had offered very little up front and anything they did was well controlled by Louise Murray, Charlene Hull, Hannah Grieve and Serena Barr in the Lurgan defence. When the half-time whistle went it was a somewhat frustrated Lurgan side who left the pitch wondering why they were still on level terms.

It was a more determined Queen’s side who came out for the second half probably lifted by the fact they had so little good possession in the first but were still well in the match. A dangerous Queen’s attack in the first minute resulted in a penalty corner for them and an infringement at this gave them another but luckily for Lurgan the shot went wide. Lurgan realised they were in a match and Queen’s were determined to show just why they were top of the league having won their match in hand in mid-week. Play swung from end to end with both sides looking dangerous on the break. On ten minutes Lurgan nearly broke the deadlock from a goalmouth scramble when Queens failed to clear another penalty corner move. In all the melee the umpires spotted a Lurgan infringement and a relieved Queen’s were awarded a free out. Nerves were beginning to jangle on both sides as it was becoming obvious that one goal could well decide the outcome of this match and potentially end the others interest in this years league title.

On the hour mark Lurgan were completely opened up when a long ball out of defence found Queen’s centre forward Hannah McMillan completely unmarked and the dangerous striker rounded out-rushing Lurgan keeper Vicky Parks and planted the ball in the net to give her side the lead. Queen’s were jubilant, thinking they had won the match but they seemed to have ignored Lurgan’s famous fighting spirit and never-say -die determination.

Lurgan came surging forward in search of an equaliser pinning Queen’s deep in their own half and making darting incursions into the circle. Their attacking spirit almost proved to be their undoing but a superb last-ditch tackle from Hannah Grieve prevented the fast breaking Queen’s attacker of a goalscoring opportunity. A Lurgan penalty corner move with seven minutes to go came to nothing but another one a minute later proved more productive. When the ball came in it was slipped left to Lucy McKee and her decisive strike thumped against the backboard to give Lurgan a deserved equaliser. Lurgan went all out for the winner and it was a relieved Queen’s who managed to hold out for the remaining five minutes and earn themselves a draw. With this result both teams still remain in the mix and will have a big say in the title race.

There are still some important and difficult matches ahead in the final run-in of this years championship with Lurgan very much still in the hunt.