Junior League 8A: DLHC 2XI 8-1 CI 5XI
With the 1XI having a free weekend, the 2XI took centre stage at Bangor Grammar last Saturday as they welcomed CI 5XI, with the home team hoping to build on a spectacular 6-2 away win last week.
The reverse of this fixture had seen a tight, hard-fought 2-1 win for the Dee earlier in the season, and the opening exchanges seemed to indicate a similar game this time out with both teams enjoying spells of possession. However the CI resistance was broken on 10 minutes when Sarah-Louise Baird scored with a sweet strike from the top of the circle at a penalty corner, and the goal opened the floodgates for Donaghadee.
Within a few minutes of the restart, a smooth move down the Dee right saw Dee right saw Emily Morris and Tasha combine to release last week’s hat-trick hero Sarah Harkness, who continued with her rich vein of form by burying her first time shot and doubling the score.
Playing in an unfamiliar defensive role and carrying a slight injury from the morning’s school match, Vicky O’Neill showed her versatility by slotting in at left back, and it was her well taken free hit that found Carmen Van Der Schyff who carried the ball down the left and crossed into the circle for Sarah to collect her second, and the Dee’s third, of the day.
And it wasn’t long before she was celebrating her second hat-trick in a row when she was in the perfect position to deflect a shot high into the net from another strike by Sarah-Louise from a Dee penalty corner. By this time, Donaghadee were enjoying themselves and it was showing in their confident, free-flowing attacking play.
When a rare CI foray into the Dee half was confidently broken up by Natalie Jamieson in the centre of defence, she quickly set her forwards away, and within three passes the ball was in the back of the net again – this time Sarah turning provider for Kerrie Turtle who controlled a pin-point cross and coolly slotted her shot home.
Having been a virtual spectator for the game until now, Captain Janice McVeigh was called into action in the Donaghadee goal in the final minutes of the first half. Buoyed by their dominance in possession, the Dee defence were pushing high up the pitch and CI managed to slip a ball through to their swift centre forward who carried into the circle unmarked.
Luckily Janice was alert to the danger and came rushing out to meet her, putting in a great save as the half-time whistle went to keep the opposition goalless: 5-0 to Donaghadee at the interval.
As the teams turned around, the break seemed to benefit CI more than the home team, who seemed to be frozen by the chill wind and started the second half very lethargically. Within the first few minutes, and with the defence beaten, the CI forwards carried the ball into the circle and a first time shot evaded Janice’s outstretched leg and nestled in the right hand corner. Was the comeback on?
It certainly proved to be a more evenly contested second half, with the teams sharing possession far more, but the Dee used theirs with greater success to maintain their superiority. With Deborah Gilmore showing her usual composure in defence, she won a free hit and set the midfield away once again.
This time it was Emily who was on the end of a slick move, her determination to get on the score sheet evident as she managed to score whilst lying prone after a lung-busting sprint up the pitch and a full-length lunge at goal.
The Dee still weren’t finished though. As the midfield began to reassert the dominance they’d had in the first half, Sarah-Louise exchanged passes with Lisa Higgins before picking out Sarah wide on the right. From a seemingly impossible angle, she fired a rocket of a shot beyond the beleaguered CI keeper for her fourth of the match and a magnificent seven for the Dee.
The home team had further chances to add to the score from a series of penalty corners, with shots going agonisingly wide until the ball was switched left to Kerrie bearing in on goal – her shot was parried by the keeper but fell to Sarah who was never going to miss from a few feet out.
To be fair to CI, they never let themselves be disheartened by the score and they continued to compete, with the second half finishing in similar fashion to the first as Janice had to race from her goal to clear a through ball away from danger. The final score read to 8-1 to the Dee, with a high five for Sarah H.
Thanks to Nicola Patton for umpiring, and to “my Gary” for his support. Next week the 1XI take on South Antrim at home on Saturday, pass back 1pm, while the 2XI will be looking to continue their rich vein of form away to NICS 4XI on Friday night.