Portadown 0 Lurgan 3
Lurgan guaranteed themselves a semi-final place in this year’s Denman Ulster Shield with this hard fought but deserved victory over local rivals Portadown at Edenvilla on Wednesday night.
Both sides started warily with neither side showing too much attacking incentive. Lurgan tried to build some meaningful attacks but too often their indifferent passing let them down and Portadown’s tight marking and energetic challenges were disrupting any promising moves.
After 10 minutes Lurgan opted for the more direct approach and it paid dividends immediately. Charlene Hull fired a powerful ball into the circle and it was picked up by Emily McStea who slipped it past the keeper to put the visitors in front.
This goal seemed to settle Lurgan and they gradually continued to dominate possession forcing the home side to defend deeper and deeper.
Determined not to concede again Portadown got every player behind the ball and made life difficult for the Lurgan midfield and forward line. A good Lurgan attack forced a penalty corner in the 23rd minute but the Portadown keeper pulled off a good save on a Sarah McClure strike. Portadown continued to defend doggedly and frustrate any Lurgan attacks. Another Lurgan penalty corner strike with two minutes to go to halftime went wide of the Portadown post.
The second half continued in much the same vein as the first with Lurgan trying to find a way through a stubborn Portadown resistance. Intelligent running by forwards Jo-Anne Wilson, Emily McStea, Chloe McCann and Kathryn Edgar were pulling the Portadown defence all over the place and they were beginning to show signs of cracking.
In the 56th minute they got their reward for all their hard work and it was the Lurgan midfield who carved the opening and the finish on this occasion. Carly Johnston, who had worked tirelessly all night, went on a lovely run up the Lurgan right and her beautiful square ball across the Portadown circle was met by the inrushing Emma Lindsay who fired a rasping shot wide of the Portadown keeper against the backboard to put the visitors 2 nil up.
With the Portadown resistance broken Lurgan went on the offensive and won a series of penalty corners with Sarah McClure in particular pulling the strings.
Portadown still defended resolutely and prevented Lurgan from capitalising on any of these awards. In the 64th minute Alex Hurst, who was playing her last match before going to University in Birmingham, went on a great run, culminating in another penalty corner award for Lurgan but again the defence stood firm.
With seconds to go to the final whistle Lurgan were awarded their last penalty corner of the match. In a well-rehearsed move Charlene Hull drilled the ball goal wards and Kerrie Burns dropped her stick on it to deflect the ball into the roof of the Portadown net.
In the end a convincing win for Lurgan.