Banbridge Ladies Firsts win top of the table clash

BANBRIDGE Ladies Firsts travelled to Limavady on Saturday in what was a top of the table clash as the league campaign continued.

As the match got underway the weather conditions took a turn for the worse. The heavy downpour had a negative impact on visibility and made the pitch very slow. Despite this, Banbridge started the match as they had started every other match this season, dictating the pace and making their intentions perfectly clear.

Bann drove forward, continuously splitting the Limavady defense as the forwards created chances. Although Banbridge had the majority of the play, Limavady managed a couple of quick breaks. However, these posed little threat to the Banbridge defense with great tackles and clearances from defenders Ashlea Bell, Amanda Morton and Jill Mehaffey. Banbridge showed immense discipline and team strength as they defended and attacked as one unit. The midfield of Sarah Quinn, Gemma Todd and Debbie Whitten worked tirelessly throughout the game and caused numerous problems for their Limavady counterparts.

The goal deadlock was broken in the 15th minute as Limavady succumbed to Banbridge's constant pressure. Great flowing hockey resulted in Amy Atkinson receiving the ball at the top of the circle. With two defenders between herself and the goal Amy quickly turned, freed herself up an inch and took a quick powerful shot. There was nothing the Limvady keeper could have done as the ball hit the backboard.

Banbridge held possession, producing lovely hockey. They didn't have to wait too long for their efforts to be rewarded. Gemma Todd played the ball accurately onto the stick of Rachel Cairns who had moved into space at the top of the circle. Another quick strike left the keeper with no chance.

With seven minutes left until half time Rachel attacked the Limavady circle drawing with her a couple of defenders, this allowed her to play a 90 degree ball back to Amy Atkinson who had run through to support. Amy, realising that the keeper had moved to cover the shot aimed instead at the back post where Sara Rankin deflected the ball into the goal. This took the Bann side into the half-time interval with a 3-0 lead.

As the second half got underway Limavady came into the game a little more. This time their attacking efforts resulted in a penalty corner being awarded and converted. This goal spurred Limavady on and another penalty corner came moments later, this time Alanna Little showed great agility as she got her toe to the shot to guide it around the post.

Although Limavady had created a couple of chances the Banbridge girls did not panic. They remained composed and began driving forward once again. Credit must go to the Limavady side as they continued to hold Banbridge.

It wasn't until 26 minutes into the 2nd half that Banbridge managed to add to their goal tally. This time the ball was picked up by talented young played Amy Gray who showed experience beyond her years as she timed her pass to Anna Moore. Anna was not intimidated by the advancing keeper and instead scooped the ball over her and into the net.

Banbridge's final goal came one minute later as Anna Moore again was on target, knocking the ball in at the back post after Gemma Todd had shown great skill to create the chance from close range.

The score at the end of the match was a very impressive 5-1 win to Banbridge Ladies. Although this was a great team performance the player of the match this week goes to Anna Moore and Sarah Quinn.

Massive thanks this week go to Alison Wilson for driving the bus and Sheree Totten for umpiring.