Lurgan Ladies lost their unbeaten Premier League record this season with this reversal to Randalstown at the Junior High School on Saturday.
It was rough justice for the home side who had controlled long periods of the game, played some of the most attractive hockey they had played all season and yet ultimately had nothing to show for all their efforts.
Randalstown started the match in confident fashion winning a penalty corner which was well defended by the home side. After this early reminder Lurgan really got into gear and picked up the pace knocking the ball around with great confidence.
Lurgan took the lead in the 12th minute when a beautiful flowing move involving Jo-Anne Wilson, Kathryn Edgar and Emily McStea resulted in them creating a tap in finish for Chloe McCann. Lurgan kept the pressure up and the pace high as they forced Randalstown on the defensive and pinned them deep in their own half. The away side had to resort to some last ditch tackling and use the ariel ball from deep to keep the home side at bay.
Lurgan failed to capitalise on this period of dominance and they couldn’t convert a 27th minute penalty corner as the shot was well saved by the keeper and cleared by her defence.
Another Lurgan penalty corner again failed to yield any reward and for all their control it was only a slender one goal lead the home side had to take into the second half.
Randalstown regrouped at half time and came out with more purpose for the second half but it was Lurgan who created the first opportunity. A quick break up-field by Charlene Hull saw her release to Sarah McClure outside the Town circle. Sarah turned beautifully into the circle but her quick strike on reverse flew just wide of the keepers right hand post.
Lurgan kept up the pressure and a 50th minute penalty corner move resulted in the umpires awarding a retake but they still couldn’t find a way past the Randalstown keeper. Their inability to capitalise on their penalty corner opportunities was cruelly punished in the 52nd minute. As Lurgan pushed forward another long ariel from deep flew into the heart of an exposed defence and the Randalstown forwards raced through on Suzie Taylor who couldn’t prevent the two-on-one situation resulting in an equaliser.
Having conjured up an unlikely equaliser the away team began to play with a bit more purpose and they committed more players up field. In the 58th minute they took the lead when a speculative ball played into the Lurgan circle nicked off an attackers stick and sneaked in at the far post with the keeper completely unsighted.
Sarah McClure and Charlene Hull had shots saved in the space of two minutes as the home side strived hard to conjure up an equaliser. In an unbelievable melee in the Randalstown circle Emma Lindsay must have thought she had scored as she tried to force the ball home from close range but the keeper again got in a block and the danger was cleared.
With time running out Lurgan forced another penalty corner but again they couldn’t find the net and it was the visitors who held on to claim the points.
Although this was a setback for the home side they still have games in hand on the league leaders and are still serious title contenders.