Donaghadee Ladies 2nd XI had been due to play a friendly against Civil Service 3rds last Saturday but thanks to a rearranging of Service’s league games, they were forced to pull out leaving the Dee 2nds with the prospect of no game. Then an opportune phonecall midweek from Bangor Ladies looking for opposition for their 2nds for a game at the weekend meant that a match was back on the cards. Bangor 2nds currently play in Ulster Hockey’s Junior 9B; the league in which Donaghadee would play should a 2nd XI be entered in to the league in the coming seasons and therefore a great opportunity for the Dee to gauge the level of hockey which would be required.
With the late change in pass back time and the venue switched to Bangor Sportsplex, the Dee were several players short so a few of the 1st XI players stepped in to bring the Dee complement to 12. In her second match as 2nds captain, Lisa Alexander won the toss for first pass back for Donaghadee and the girls in red and green were eager to get stuck in. Bangor probably just shaded it in terms of possession in the first period – experience of regular games undoubtedly helping – and the Donaghadee defence of Hannah McAdam, Lisa A and Alex McVeigh were kept busy in the early stages. Strong running and crisp passing from the Bangor forwards cut through the Dee defence with the final ball at the back post giving keeper Tina Sterling little chance to clear her lines. 1-0 to Bangor at half time.
Donaghadee did then start to get to grips with the match and, undeterred at being a goal down, pressed on in search of the equaliser. Leona Wells and Deborah Gilmour were both extremely industrious in the midfield for Donaghadee, working hard to get the balls out to Emily Morris on the left wing and Maura Hennessey on the right. Pressing the ball much higher up the pitch, Donaghadee started to force the Bangor defence in to the odd mistake and it was just such pressure from Emily which earned the Dee the goal to even the scoreline. Giving her opposite number no time to settle on the ball as she tried to make the clearance, Emily forced her defender back into the corner until the mistake came. The quick resulting pass found Carolyn unmarked in the circle and the centre forward finished cleanly with a first time shot. Both sides had good chances to win the game, but both goalkeepers were a match for the shots; Tina in particular showing some pretty quick reactions to parry the ball away. Dee 1st XI players Ali Lawther, Suzie Ferguson and Lisa Higgins all helped to steady the ship with their experience but on the basis of both Saturday’s performance and result, Donaghadee 2nds could more than hold their own in Junior 9B and, with the benefit of regular matches, would be able to add experience to their enthusiasm. Many thanks to Bangor for the match and to Will and Alfie for umpiring.
Next action for the Dee is the 1sts at home to Newcastle on Saturday (9th Feb) at Bangor Academy. With only 3 games remaining, the Dee will be looking to finish strongly to consolidate a top half finish to the league. More info at http://www.donaghadeelhc.co.uk and on Facebook.com/DonaghadeeLHC.