Following on from the very good 2-0 home win against Newry Olympic the previous week, when the good team work and interplay was starting to come together, Donaghadee LHC travelled to Shaw’s Bridge last Friday night to play Instonians LHC in the latest round of the Senior 4 league fixtures. The Dee were several places above their hosts in the league table before pass back, but nothing was being taken for granted in the red and green camp as previous encounters between the two teams have been tight, robust affairs. An air of caution was evident too, with several regular players unavailable due to other commitments. In testament to the good numbers now turning up to training every week, captain Ali Lawther was still able to travel with a full team and also have subs on the side line.
The match got underway in pleasantly mild conditions, though the torrential rain of previous days made the water-based astroturf heavy and a bit sticky, with the ball not travelling as far or as quickly as either team was expecting. Once the players got used to the speed of the ball, the game began to settle down with Donaghadee doing a lot of the attacking. It was almost as though the Dee were trying too hard in the early stages of the match though, with the final ball not being as accurate as it should be, or the final pass going astray at the crucial moment. Kerry Savage was unlucky not to open the scoring when a lovely strong sweep from the midfielder pinged off the far post and away from the danger area. She made good several minutes later when, for the 3rd week in a row, she slid the ball home from her usual tight angle on the right. Identical positioning, identical outcome. 1-0 to the Dee. This seemed to settle the Dee nerves somewhat and just before the half time whistle Lisa Higgins, making a great break from midfield, popped up in the circle to make it 2-0 to the visitors.
In the second half, Donaghadee kept the pressure on their hosts whose sweeper and keeper were doing much to keep the scoreline as low as possible but centre forward Kerrie Turtle managed to find herself enough space to get her shot away and make it 3-0 to the Dee. Shortly after, an infringement in the Inst circle gave the Dee a penalty corner which was duly converted by Carolyn Scott: 4-0. As the second half progressed, it was more of the same one way traffic and Andrea was next on the score sheet when she got the final touch on a melee in the Instonians circle to score a great goal to make it 5-0. The icing on the cake – with cherry on top for good measure – was provided by Natasha Cameron who calmly swept home an unstoppable shot past the unfortunate Inst keeper to make the final score 6-0 to the Dee. While the scorers may be the ones to gain the plaudits, this was very much an excellent team performance, from Siobhan McAdam in goal, Suzie Ferguson, Lisa, Christine Hooks and Emma Gray in the defensive positions; Katie Donnelly, Ali Lawther and Kerry in midfield; forwards Ruth Kennedy, Kerrie and Carolyn, and Ali G, Andrea, Natasha swapping on, everyone played a vital part in this victory. A stern test awaits Donaghadee next week when they head to Donard Park to play Newcastle, a team the Dee have traditionally found hard to break down, and it will be interesting to see how the Dee’s new found confidence measures up.