Draw could harm Ballymoney’s title tilt


LURGAN survived a second half onslaught to hold Ballymoney to a 1-1 draw in an exciting Premier League clash on Saturday.

The result has harmed ‘Money’s chances of winning the title for the second time in three years as Pegasus are now level on points but with the benefit of a game in hand.

The Co Antrim side squandered eight out of the nine penalty corners they were awarded. Amazingly all of them came in the second half during which the visitors were in almost total control.

But Lurgan deserve immense credit for sticking to their guns and defending heroically in the face of almost constant pressure.

Goalkeeper Vicky Parks was in good form as were her defenders with Hannah Grieve a tower of strength as ‘Money mounted wave after wave of attacks.

Occasionally though the pressure told as Lurgan had difficulty clearing their lines but they will take a great deal of encouragement from their display.

And they managed to match their more illustrious opponents in the first half when it was honours even although Lurgan went in a goal to the good.

After an uneventful opening spell in which neither side was really on top, Ballymoney had the first chance when Jessica Lynch set up Robyn Chambers but the Lurgan keeper averted the danger.

Then, at the other end, Chloe McCann set up an opportunity for Zoe Hawthorne after a neat interchange but her shot was deflected over the crossbar.

Twelve minutes before the break, Kate Caithness created a chance for Lynch but she was off balance and Parks was able to save easily.

But within a minute Lurgan shocked the 2011 champions with a wonderful goal which came out of the blue as neither side had really looked like scoring until that point.

Serena Barr released Lucy McKee with a nice pass and she dashed into the circle before releasing McCann who scored with a first time shot into the empty net.

Parks was again called into action near the break as she saved well from Lynch but the second half was a totally different affair.

Ballymoney upped the pace several notches as they went for the jugular although Lurgan had two early penalty corners which failed to trouble the visiting defence.

In the 46th minute ‘Money earned their first set-piece and good defensive work kept out Martin’s effort. But a minute later from their next set-piece the visitors equalised when Lynch dived full length to steer the ball home for a trademark goal after a switch.

It seemed a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ Ballymoney’s would add to their tally as they forced a series of penalty corners.

But Parks and her defenders were equal to the task.

Then with 12 minutes left Susie Martin gathered a loose ball and worked her way into the cirlce but her attempt was saved by Parks.

The game ended with Ballymoney deep in home territory but they will be disappointed they were unable to find a winner and they could be counting the cost later in the season.