Ulster Elks 0 Lurgan 3
Lurgan’s new management team of Lisa Costley and Darwin Murray are proving to be a ‘dream team’ at present as the Firsts recorded back to back wins for the first time this season.
On Saturday they inflicted only the second defeat this season on high flying Ulster Elks at the University of Ulster and the result lifts Lurgan to fifth place in the Premier League and allays any fears at present of being dragged into a relegation dogfight.
The match was also a curtain raiser for an Irish Cup quarter-final tie between the same sides at the same venue in two weeks time.
The Elks have been in great form this season and they put Lurgan under tremendous pressure in the first 15 minutes. In doing so they created three dangerous goal scoring opportunities, one of which the Lurgan defence cleared and in the other two keeper Naomi Costley was called upon to make excellent stops.
It took Lurgan 17 minutes to create a meaningful attack on the Elks circle and although Carly Johnston fired a dangerous ball across the goal line no Lurgan forward was able to get a touch on it and deflect it into the goal.
On 20 minutes Lurgan were awarded their first penalty corner and they didn’t waste it as Charlene Hull’s strike hit the backboard after a slight deflection off the keeper’s boot.
The Elks continued to press forward but they were thwarted by a stubborn Lurgan defence in which Alex Hurst and Louise Murray put in excellent performances.
On the half hour mark Sarah McClune showed her class when she robbed a defender and played a superb ball to Jayne Clarke who slipped the ball between the keeper’s legs and into the net to make it 2-0.
The fact Lurgan had the services of the three Barr sisters was invaluable and they were able to ring the changes and keep the intensity high. Regretfully the girls will be returning to America this week but their contributions in the last two games could have an impact on Lurgan’s survival this season.
With a two goal cushion Lurgan were looking more comfortable in the second half and although the Elks looked dangerous on the break it was the away team who threatened more in attack and it was no surprise when they added a third goal in the 51st minute. The goal was the result of persistence in and around the circle and a lovely piece of play from Emma Lindsay who picked up a loose ball and passed to Pippa Best to add the finish.
Lurgan were pretty much in control now and looked like scoring every time they went forward. Charlene Hull thought she had scored but the keeper made a great save.
Credit to Elks who never gave up and with two minutes to go Naomi Costley made a fine save to deny them a consolation strike.
Every player on the Lurgan team can take credit for this result.