THE saying, ‘so close and yet so far away’ was never as true when Banbridge Ladies’ poor start to the NIWFA Euro-Electrix Division 1 League season continued last Thursday evening.
The opposition was provided by Knockbreada, who were also looking for their first win. It was the home team who started well and dominated the opening exchanges as well as looking the most threatening. The midfield were right on their game from the start with both Katie Lennon and Becky Napier playing incisive balls through to the strikers.
Against the run of play Knockbreada’s number 11, Thompson, played a clever lob to beat Aisling Cole in the Banbridge net on the half hour. The home team continued to press well coming close with efforts from Napier and Cull.
But it was a case of deja vu when, in the last minutes of the first half, Thompson again scored from a well struck free kick. The locals again were building a mountain to climb. The second half began with a strong run from Tina Brush into the box but Knocbreda’s defence managed to get the all-important tackle in before she got her shot away.
Brush again was involved when on 53 minutes she crossed from the left wing to find Aisling Cull on the edge of the box. Cull this time struck on the volley to find the net.
Within two minutes Banbridge were to equalise after more good play in mid-field resulted in Cull following a ball to the near post and keeping her cool hit the outside of her boot to chip the on-rushing keeper. Suddenly the Banbridge team found themselves back in the game at 2-2. Knockbreda now found themselves struggling to retain at least a point from a game which they thought was theirs at the end of the first half. The game continued with good exchanges from both teams now determined not to concede again. But Napier thought different when, on 65 minutes, she picked the ball up on the edge of her own box dove forward in a determined mood.
Despite several Knockbreda tackles Napier kept the ball at her feet and finally got her shot away from the edge now of the opponents box and score. The extensive crowd and touchline personnel erupted in praise of this individual effort which suddenly looked like three points and a first win.
The travelers, to their credit, were not done yet and went close from a corner which was chipped on the home team’s crossbar.
Emma McMullan and Katie Lennon looked confident in the defensive roles and were now being kept busy as Knockbreda pressed forward. It looked like Banbridge were securing a victory as the clock ticked down.
The match was indeed into added time when Lennon found herself left with two players whose interplay was effective when Bonner’s lob manged to beat Cole’s best effort to rise tall and find the net. It was Knockbreda’s time to celebrate as the referee blew full time immediately upon the re-start.
A spokesman for Banbridge Ladies expressed his disappointment at the late, late equaliser and is bewildered as yet another result has gone against them. “Lady Luck is certainly missing for us, it is not that we are not scoring it’s just we keep conceding. We have several players missing and remain confident.”
League sponsor Euro-Electrix has created a new end of season award whereby managers pick a player of the match from the opposing team.
The selection from Banbridge was for Thompson whilst Cull was picked by Knockbreda. Team: A Cole, K Lennon, E Ervine, H Hopkins, E McMullan, S Taylor, R Napier, T Brush, M Spence, A Cull, E McCrea, C Orr.