Girls reach the top in emphatic fashion

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LURGAN put behind them the disappointment of last week’s cup defeat to Armagh with this emphatic win over Victorians on Saturday.

Eager to right the wrongs of last weeks performance Lurgan couldn’t have got off to a better start scoring in the opening minute. Sarah McClure took a quick free just outside the Vic’s circle, beat two players and slipped a beautiful pass to the unmarked Lucy McKee on the penalty spot who fired into the corner of the net to put Lurgan in front. Lurgan increased their advantage on five minutes when McKee again scored after a great tackle and feed from Bethany Barr.

Victorians were under the cosh and they conceded again three minutes later from Lurgan’s second penalty corner. The move looked to have broken down but the ball fell to Charlene Hull just inside the circle and she hammered an unstoppable shot past the keeper.

Lurgan were in total control, their passing and movement was excellent and their finishing of the highest quality. It was no surprise when they added a fourth as Lucy McKee completed her hat-trick with a fiercely struck shot after dribbling past two defenders in the circle. The waves of Lurgan attacks kept coming and Victorians to their credit kept battling to stem the tide. They managed to hold out for a period of about 15 minutes but were opened up from another Lurgan penalty corner five minutes before half-time . A beautifully worked move saw Hannah Grieve pick out Sarah McClure at the far post and she eased the ball into the net with the deftest of deflections. There was still time for Lurgan to add another from probably the best move of the match so far. Chloe McCann picked up the ball and went on a flowing run before linking up with Carly Johnston outside the circle. Carly controlled beautifully and slipped a lovely reverse pass to McKee to drive home.

Two minutes after the restart Lurgan added their seventh goal from their first penalty corner. Two shots were blocked in the move before the ball bobbled to Zoe Hawthorne who smashed it past the keeper. It has been pleasing to see the way Lurgan have been varying their penalty corner moves this season and a beautiful strike from Bethany Barr at their next penalty corner five minutes later thumped against the backboard to make it eight nil for Lurgan. Coach Gary Blythe was constantly ringing the changes, bringing on fresh legs and using his panel intelligently to keep the pressure on the opposition and demanding more from his players.

Shelley Sloan, who has recently transferred back to her local club from Pegasus, turned provider five minutes later when she picked out Jo-Anne Wilson in the circle and Jo-Anne fired home Lurgan’s ninth goal of the match. Lurgan went in search of that elusive tenth goal and they came very close when a Hannah Grieve shot from another penalty corner just grazed the outside of a post.

A battling Victorians never gave up and they got their reward 20 minutes into the half when, from probably their only serious attack of the match, their forward scored from a tight angle with a great strike.

Lurgan pummelled the Victorians back line for the rest of the match and only some superb saves from the keeper prevented them from adding to their tally. In two penalty corners in a row she pulled off five miraculous stops to deny Lurgan a tenth goal.

Nevertheless this was an extremely satisfying result and one which catapults Lurgan to the top of the Premier League. They will hope to carry this form into their next league match, the Ulster Shield semi-final against Pegasus on Sunday at Stormont.