Senior League 4: Cooke 1-2 Donaghadee LHC 1XI
Donaghadee Ladies Hockey Club’s First XI’s superb start to the season continued on Saturday when they travelled to Shaw’s Bridge to play Cooke LHC. With only Tasha Paxton missing from the Dee line up – unfortunately injured during Friday night’s 2XI match against Bangor – coach Brian McKee and Captain Ruth Kennedy were delighted to have the full 1st XI squad at their disposal.
The match was late starting thanks to the previous game overrunning but the pitch was bathed in unseasonably warm – but low – autumnal sunshine. Electing to play into the sun in the first half, Donaghadee were quickly into their stride and with forwards Kerrie Turtle and Ruth causing the home defence problems early on. Donaghadee earned themselves a penalty corner which Carolyn Scott struck low to the right beyond the outstretched foot of the Cooke keeper to get the scoring off the mark.
With Cooke playing much of their hockey through the middle of the pitch, central midfielder Ali Lawther needed to be on her mettle to keep defenders Suzie Ferguson, Claire Stewart and Lisa Higgins protected, with additional support coming from Kerry Kennedy, Kerry Savage and Paige Reilly in midfield. Donaghadee’s lead was slender however, with Siobhan McAdam called into action several times in the first half to make necessary saves to keep the home side at bay.
After the half time restart, Donaghadee were a little slow off the mark and Cooke were awarded a penalty corner following an infringement in the Dee circle early in the second half. The home team managed to scramble the ball over the line to make it 1-1 to set up an interesting finish to the game; with both sides intent on attack and searching for the winner, the game quickly became very stretched. Lisa pushed up from the back into a more attacking role for the Dee and, ably assisted by Victoria Speers, the extra body helped Donaghadee to regain some of the midfield ascendency they had enjoyed in the first half. Up front, Maura Hennessey was proving a willing runner down the wide channels to keep the forward momentum going, and it was from another penalty corner where Donaghadee got their second goal – Kerry Kennedy taking advantage of a crowded circle to slot home to make it 2-1. There were more chances for both sides but with no more goals to add, the Dee girls were delighted to continue their superb start to the season with a fourth win from four played.
Junior League 9: Bangor 1-0 Donaghadee LHC 2XI
Donaghadee LHC Second XI made the short trip to the Aurora to play Bangor Seconds last Friday night. The game got underway with strong attacking work by Natasha Cameron and Karen Fegan on the left, with Donaghadee storming into the Bangor circle to give Karen a great shot at goal, only for it to be saved by the keeper. Bangor were quick to take the resulting hit out and they worked the ball towards the Dee circle. Tori Rollo put in two solid block tackles to break down Bangor’s attack.
Shortly after, a quick dash to the circle by the home side caught Donaghadee off guard, resulting in Bangor coming away with the opening goal of the game. Bangor continued to force play into the Dee’s half and called on Amy Long and Ruth Howell to put in goal-saving tackles to clear the ball wide. Donaghadee were determined to do some attacking of their own and a great ball from Paige Reilly found Victoria Speers deep in Bangor’s half, resulting in a short corner being won as the ball struck a Bangor foot in the circle. A strong first time strike by Melissa Rollo was unfortunately deflected by the Bangor keeper. The play was end to end and Donaghadee’s keeper Janice McVeigh put in several diving saves to keep the score 1-0 to Bangor at half time.
The second half got off to a fast start with Tasha Paxton storming through Bangor’s defence towards the circle, only to be heavily tackled, resulting in Donaghadee losing Tasha to injury. Despite this blow, Dee midfield players Deborah Gilmore and Carmen van der Schyff worked continuously to tackle back and put Bangor under pressure. A great interception by Teegan Greer gave the Dee another attacking chance but to no avail; Donaghadee unfortunate to be denied their much deserved equaliser. Final score 1-0 to Bangor, with a great team effort shown by all of the Donaghadee girls.
Many thanks to Mike Smyth for umpiring duties. Next up for the 1st XI is a trip to the North coast on Saturday for their match against newly promoted Ballycastle, while the Seconds are at home to Instonians 2nd XI.