Last Saturday (16th) saw the final home match of the season for Donaghadee Ladies in their Section 4 league campaign with what promised to be an interesting and close encounter with Cooke Ladies, who were close behind in the table.
Both teams started off at a fair pace and the first half developed quickly in to a fast and open game; Andrea Girvin on the right and Ruth Kennedy on the left getting a number of good runs down the wings and breaking through into the Cooke circle on a number of occasions and Kerrie Turtle trying to add to her lead in the Dee goal-scoring table but some excellent work by the Cooke defenders and keeper held them at bay. At the other end Cooke also had their opportunities but solid defence from Lisa Higgins, Nina Wells, Susie Ferguson and Hannah McAdam kept them out, backed up by a couple of excellent saves from keeper Siobhan McAdam, including one full length dive! In midfield Ali Lawther and Kerry Kennedy fought for every ball and covered a lot of ground, whilst young Caitland battled throughout with great enthusiasm in what was only her second appearance for the team. The half time whistle brought a welcome break for both teams as they turned round at 0-0.
On some occasions this season the Dee have been caught a little cold from the restart and unfortunately this was again one of those times as just four minutes into the second half and Cooke won a penalty corner which they successfully converted into a 1-0 lead. It was important that the Dee fight back quickly and they mounted a wave of attacks down the flanks but Cooke held firm. Then the start of a crazy six minutes brought an amazing run through from midfield by Kerry Kennedy to the right of the circle and a driving, diving and powerful shot went high in to the top right corner, giving the Cooke keeper no chance. One each and all to play for.
The pace of the game kept up, and as legs started to get a little wearier there were a number of gaps starting to appear. Both teams had chances and a sweeping move from Cooke through the middle went out right and was quickly drilled back in with a shot from the top of the circle somehow finding its way though defence and keeper and Cooke were back in front, 2-1.The visitors found a new confidence with their lead and they mounted a period of sustained pressure which was dealt with well by the Dee defence, with a number of swift counter-attacks coming through Lisa, Ali, Ruth and Andrea. One of these forays forward from Ali resulted in a driving cross from the right and Kerrie was on hand to add to her already impressive tally and bring the score to 2-2 as we entered the final quarter.
Cue more attacking from Cooke but two penalty corners were defended well and the match headed into the final ten minutes with all to play for. A midfield tussle looked like a free hit for the Dee but went Cooke’s way and a quickly taken hit drove them into the circle. Before the Dee defence could react the ball was in the back of net despite a valiant dive from Siobhan in the Dee goals. Cooke back in front again! Despite a number of counter attacks in the final five minutes the Dee were unable to get any more real attempts on goal and the whistle blew with a 2-3 defeat for the home side. The whole team fought hard throughout and kept up the pace right to the end and there was an air of slight disappointment at the outcome. Thanks to Mike for umpiring and to all the gang who came along to add their support.
With no league match this week, there will be another Reds versus Whites as the Firsts and Seconds come together for an in-club match at Bangor Academy, pass back 1pm, before the final game of the Firsts’ season takes place on Friday 1 March away to Ballynahinch, with still all to play for in the battle for the places in the top half of the table. All the info is at http://www.DonaghadeeLHC.co.uk and on Facebook/DonaghadeeLHC.