PORTADOWN 0 LURGAN 7
NEW signing Lucy McKee scored a hat-trick in her debut as Lurgan hit local rivals Portadown for seven in this Winemark Ulster Shield game at Edenvilla last Saturday.
It took only five minutes for McKee to open her account as she fired home at the back post after good approach play from Zoe McNally and Joanne Wilson.
Lurgan had Portadown under constant pressure as wave after wave of attack bore down on the home goal.
They were rewarded on 15 minutes when Charlene Hull scored from a re-taken penalty corner thanks to a cool finish. Bethany Barr, Kim Scott and Sarah McClure were in total control of midfield with the latter pulling all the strings setting up a series of dangerous attacks for a rampant forward line.
Another penalty corner on 25 minutes was slammed home by Charlene Hull with a powerful strike.
The Portadown defence tried hard but were chasing shadows and Joanne Wilson was unlucky not to score when her reverse stick strike went just wide of the post. She rectified that on 28 minutes with some clever improvisation from a penalty corner move which seemed to have broken down but she retrieved the situation, creating a shooting opportunity which she duly dispatched past the despairing dive of the keeper.
There was no respite for Portadown as new Lurgan coach, Gary Blythe cleverly rotated his forward line bringing on Penny Joyce and Chloe McCann to keep the tempo high and give no breathing space to an already overworked defence.
They must have been relieved to hear the half-time whistle and a chance to gather their senses but at 4-0 down it was obvious the second half was going to be a damage limitation exercise.
The second half was only minutes old when McKee scored her second of the match with a drag shot from a penalty corner. She completed her hat-trick minutes later with a confident finish after skilful approach play by Zoe McNally created the opportunity.
The Lurgan backline were hardly called upon in defensive duties but this gave full-backs Serena Barr and Louise Murray the opportunity to charge forward and join in the attacks to great effect.
Charlene Hull and Hannah Grieve were excellent at the heart of defence, protecting keeper Naomi Costley, cutting off any thrust forward by Portadown and spreading the play at their leisure.
With 10 minutes to go midfielder Sarah McClure got the goal her overall play so richly deserved and it was fitting that she both started and finished the move. She picked up the ball midway into the Portadown half, beat three players and slipped the ball to Bethany Barr who fed her the perfect return pass to enable her to slide the ball into the net.
That might have been the end of the scoring but it was not the end of the action.
Such was Lurgan’s dominance that they had six penalty corners in the last six minutes but a combination of bad luck, brave Portadown defending and a couple of excellent stops from Portadown keeper (and ex-Lurgan Thirds keeper) Zoe Jackson prevented any further scores.
This was a polished and clinical performance from a ruthless Lurgan team. New coach Gary Blythe said after the match he was very pleased with the performance.