Dee edge close encounter at Larne
With inspirational Donaghadee 1XI captain Kerry Kennedy away sunning herself on a half term break in Costa Kildare, vice Sarah-Louise Baird stepped up to lead the troops for the first round of the Intermediate Cup in Larne.
Big shoes to fill then, none more so than when one of Sarah-Louise’s gutties mysteriously went missing as she readied herself during her prematch rituals. Shoe safely retrieved – thankfully before pass back – SL managed to lose both the toss and the choice of ends (tactical, apparently).
It was a bit of a slow start from the Dee (not tactical), with Larne applying waves of pressure and Donaghadee seemingly unable to get much beyond the halfway line. Claire Stewart steadied the ship in the heart of defence with a number of well-timed challenges to clear wide while Dee keeper Siobhan McAdam made, amongst others, a cool as you like stick save to ensure the ball rounded the right side of the post as far as the Dee were concerned.
Larne were left ruing their missed opportunities when, midway through the first half, Sarah-Louise bolted down the left (with both shoes on) and cut in to the attacking circle. Her shot forced the keeper into a save which lifted the ball dangerously and with the umpire playing an excellent advantage instead of awarding an immediate penalty corner, she had another go, sneaking the ball in from a tight angle between the keeper’s legs to give Donaghadee the lead much against the run of play.
Natalie Jamieson then came close to scoring a wonderful goal to put Donaghadee two up. Coming on as a rolling sub at the halfway line she intercepted a Larne pass without breaking stride and just kept going. Past players and riding tackles, on she went, the resulting shot just inching the wrong side of the keeper’s far post.
Donaghadee were beginning to work themselves into the game a bit more, with the platform coming from the back: Paige Reilly and Amy Long both sent numerous probing balls down the flanks for Vicky O’Neill, Emma and Leanna McGimpsey-Young to run on to. Ali Stevenson was her usual rock steady self and Helen Hooks ran non stop in the centre of midfield as she linked back and front.
Laura Boyle provided a brilliant defence-splitting pass that Carolyn Scott was inches away from connecting with at the edge of the circle (a longer stick, longer arms or younger legs might have done the trick) but it set the tone for periods of the second half. Donaghadee found the Larne keeper in splendid form however, and she made a number of excellent saves to keep the score at 1-0.
With Larne pulling the keeper off in the final stages to add an extra outfield player as they searched for the equaliser, Donaghadee found themselves penned in but a big collective effort saw the Dee girls triumph in what was a keenly fought and competitive match to edge through to the second round where they will play Club KV. It’s back to league action on Saturday with the 1XI welcoming Newry to BGS at 1pm, followed by the 2XI taking on Bangor 3XI in the 2.30pm slot.