Lurgan began their Premier League campaign with a narrow but fully deserved 2-1 win over Lisnagarvey on Saturday at Lurgan Junior High School.
Every single point is going to be vital this season as Lurgan strive to maintain their Premier status.
So a win against Garvey was a must for coach Gary Blythe and manager Darwin Murray.
Lurgan started positively but it was Garvey who had the first goalscoring opportunity from a sixth minute penalty corner but the resulting shot went wide.
Two minutes later a Lurgan attack resulted in a goalmouth scramble in the Garvey circle but the ball was cleared before any Lurgan forward could get a strike on goal.
Play for much of the half was scrappy with Lurgan dominating possession without creating any clear cut scoring opportunities.
With five minutes to go to the break Lurgan were awarded their first penalty corner and a switch move resulted in Sarah McClure’s goalbound strike hitting a defender’s foot on the line.
The umpires awarded a penalty stroke and this was confidently converted by Jayne Clarke to give the town side the lead.
The second half began with Lurgan on the offensive and after eight minutes Jayne Clarke created space for a shot in the circle but her effort was well saved by the keeper.
Garvey had a few counter attacks during the first half without creating any clear cut chances.
But ten minutes into the half they equalised with a crisp finish at the far post after a quick break upfield.
In the space of ten minutes Lurgan won three penalty corners as they went in search of a winner but on each occasion the shot was saved or blocked as the Garvey defence held their line.
No one could fault the effort of the Lurgan team but at times it was a frantic affair when what was needed was a little composure.
Too often players held on to the ball too long and lost possession after being crowded out or picked the wrong option for a pass when a simple drop off to an unmarked colleague was what was needed.
Nevertheless Lurgan kept going forward and they got their reward from a 65th minute penalty corner.
A slight deflection from a defender’s stick was not enough to prevent a Charlene Hull strike thumping against the backboard and putting Lurgan back in front.
Lurgan saw out the final five minutes without any real worries and it was a smiling Gary Blythe who said after the match that although it was a scrappy game he was delighted with the win and the three valuable points.