Seconds survive tough cup test

Lurgan Seconds 2

Randlestown Seconds 1

Irish Junior Cup

GOOD humour has often been in short supply when Lurgan Seconds meet Randlestown Seconds but pressure was increased with this clash being an Irish Junior Cup game.

Lurgan were up against it in the opening 10 minutes, they weathered this and realised the need for quicker passing and harder tackling. The game began to see saw and was finally balanced when Randlestown were awarded their first short corner ten minutes in. The switch to the left was pressurised and although Naomi Costley nearly got a pad to the ball it was sufficiently to her right to escape her attention and deflect in.

Lurgan upped their tempo, spread their ball and started to compete. Randlestown came up short to the fast and varied, fluid and passing Lurgan attack. Julie Morrow, Pippa Best and Ellen Mullen would combine again and again to threaten the equaliser. Eventually it came when Pippa stole a trade mark opposition free off the stick fed Julie who slotted to the racing Mullen. With great composure Ellen chose her corner and as soon as the keeper committed she slipped it home to level the squad.

The home girls arrived at the dug out at half time in buoyant mood. They had plenty to say and it was left to coach, Ivor Lennon, to draw it together. Tactics to win this draw would be simple; don’t hold it; run faster; pressurise their free hits.

Like a charm this worked. Suddenly Randlestown could hardly get the ball out of their half. Lurgan found their groove, fast pass, fast feet. This suited Lurgan’s attack six. They wove and sprinted and forced their way into the circle again and again. But Lurgan couldn’t score from the short corner. With four good providers at the back the Lurgan squad hit their rhythm. Pippa Best and Katie Magowan could find the circle, Julie Morrow and Ellen Mullen were wave two and ‘Town eventually buckled as wave three with the Quinn girls and McBride crashed in. Such was the pressure that after a Morrow incursion and a narrow angle shot a defender kicked the ball into her own net from inches out.

It was Lurgan’s turn to weather a storm. Randlestown threw everything but the kitchen sink at Lurgan. The home girls absorbed the pressure.

Randlestown went wide and tried to a different door. Lurgan bolted it shut. As Clara Lennon was about to clear the pressure and launch an attack one of those freak events happened; as Clara slapped the ball it split into two pieces. Though the pass would have sent Lurgan speeding down field now they were facing a bully at top of circle. Thankfully, captain Niki Quinn was equal to the one on one challenge and came away with the ball.

Lurgan dominated the last exchanges but couldn’t put the game away. The clock inevitably ticked down and Lurgan went through into the quarter-finals of the Irish Junior Cup.

This Saturday see Lurgan Seconds in a top of the table clash with Elks. It could be a close call with Lurgan missing three first choices.