Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club were back on home turf for the first time since before Christmas when bottom side Instonians came to Bangor Academy last Saturday. With only four games of the 12/13 season remaining, Donaghadee are battling it out with Cooke and Ballynahinch to secure a good mid-table finish and Saturday was targeted as a chance to improve the goal tally: while matches against Instonians in the past have been very tight, closely fought affairs, Inst have been really struggling this year having lost a number of players before the season kicked off, with their results reflecting this.
With captain Ali Lawther unavailable due to work commitments, vice captain Suzie Ferguson stepped up and won the toss for first pass back. Despite a couple of quick forays into the attacking half in the opening minutes, Donaghadee weren’t able to string more than one or two passes together – seemingly a collective attack of the jitters affecting the home sticks, with misplaced passes and overhit shots not doing anything to settle play down. Instonians took advantage of this and with strong running through the middle – a feature of their play all afternoon – caught the Dee napping to work themselves an opening. The Inst centre forward gladly took the chance and the visitors were 1-0 to the good. Whether this was the wake-up call required we’ll never know but dogged determination from the Dee midfield to play through the misplaced balls manifested itself perfectly when Kerry Kennedy took matters in to her own hands, driving from a deep midfield position into the Inst circle. Rather than taking a snap shot, she dodged several defenders with some beautiful stick work and calmly rounded the keeper to get the Dee up and running. This undoubtedly helped settle Donaghadee and shortly after, Carolyn worked her way to the byline on the right hand side and drew the keeper over to her near post before passing the ball back across goal where both centre forward Natasha Cameron and left wing Ruth Kennedy were waiting; Ruth getting the final touch to make it 2-1. A third was added just before half time when Lisa Higgins made her bi-annual trip into the attacking circle. The confusion this creates for not only the defending team, unsure where this extra attacking maestro has come from, but also Lisa’s team-mates (where did she come from?!) usually results in a goal and Saturday was no different although this time the additional confusion came from who actually scored the goal, with both Lisa and Katie Donnelly generously awarding it to each other. With no TMO to consult, the goals panel will award each half – could be vital at the end of season totting up!
The chat at half time was to try and settle things down, to try and start playing passes to sticks and that the goals would come. The midfield were getting through a lot of work, with Emma Gray on for Katie D to provide fresh legs and Leona Wells on the right doing well to keep the ball moving forward. Goals four and five came courtesy of Carolyn, with her second in particular doing well to evade the onrushing Inst keeper. Replacement centre forward Kerrie Turtle connected with a ball at the top of the Inst circle and Carolyn, with her back to goal and under pressure from the keeper, managed a neat reverse stick flick which snuck inside the post. Carolyn and Kerrie then combined again to round off the scoring with another ball cut back from the byline for Kerrie to tap home. Instonians weren’t giving in without a fight though and on several occasions their centre forward threatened but Nina Wells, Hannah McAdam and Christine Hooks were alert to the threat, protecting Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam right to the final whistle. Final score 6-1 to Donaghadee. Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring and to Stanley Woods Accountants for sponsoring the match ball. The next match for the club is on Saturday 2nd February when DLHC 2nd XI welcome Civil Service 3rds in the return fixture from a few weeks ago. Pass back is at 1pm at Bangor Academy and all support will be very welcome. More info at http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk and on Facebook.com/donaghadeelhc