Ballymoney First XI hosted North Down 1XI in the Ulster Premier League on Saturday 13th February.
The previous meeting between these two teams was a well worked 5-1 win for the Ballymoney side. Ballymoney were seeking to maintain their league form with another win and this set the tone for what proved to be a gritty team performance.
From the start it was clear that both teams wanted to come away with three points with both teams playing some nice, linking hockey and creating attacking opportunities to test each other’s defensive abilities.
The whole of the first half was an end to end battle with neither team able to break the stalemate; the score remained 0-0 at the half time whistle. Ballymoney started the second half with the bit between their teeth and attacked from the off.
It was clear that Ballymoney were now becoming more confident and had relaxed into the feel of the game, linking play from left to right allowed the girls to get into the circle and start to win penalty corners. It was one of these corners that gave the home side the advantage, a straight strike from the top of the circle which bounced off a North Down stick allowed Laura McCurdy to put the ball into the back of the net to make it 1-0 to Ballymoney. This goal gave Ballymoney the boost that they needed, and with players diffing deep, play began to open up. The increase in passing and moving, on and off the ball, and the desire to get into the circle proved to be very beneficial for the toon side. A passage of play stemming from defence, up the left and a lovely, well placed ball across the face of the North Down goal, gave Laura McCurdy her second of the day, making it 2-0 to Ballymoney.
Ballymoney were definitely not able to take their foot off the gas, North Down continued to attack fast and move the ball well creating many attacking opportunities, however the Ballymoney defence remained strong. Ballymoney continued to play open hockey, however their luck in front of goal was no more. North Down won a penalty corner and were able to capitalise on this by pulling a goal back making it 2-1. The remaining seven minutes of the game were fairly uneventful, with neither team creating any real chances. The game finished 2-1 to the home side and Ballymoney maintain their winning league form.