Dromore Ladies exited the Irish Cup at the hands of Cliftonville last week.
The Bookpeople sponsored side put in a spirited performance away to Premiership opposition.
Having fallen 3-0 down, the Dromore girls gave the hosts a scare, rallying back to 3-2 thanks to goals from Hannah Hughes and Lisa Dummigan before Cliftonville got back on top to seal a 5-2 victory.
Dromore travelled to Solitude in Belfast to face their toughest challenge this season missing five players due to injuries and holidays.
It was always going to be a battle for 12 girls and after just three minutes the away team didn’t clear the ball and young Reds forward shot high above Emma McClements into the net.
It was not the start the ladies wanted and with their tails up the Reds came on the hunt pinning Dromore into their own half. Reds’ Northern Ireland international players Trudi Harbinson and Billie Simpson were dictating the play, forcing the away team to defend deep.
For all the Reds pressure, Dromore held firm and with some luck at times managed to frustrate Cliftonville and prevent them from adding to their early goal.
Dromore had set up 4-5-1 to absorb the pressure then try and hit Cliftonville on the break using Ruddy and Taggart down both wings.
Lauren Gibson, who was struggling with an injury, provided Taggart with a half chance but the forward was crowded out by two Reds players leaving the score 1-0 at half-time.
With the heat really taking its tool, the girls were glad to get in for their half-time team talk as they looked to find a way back into the game.
Unfortunately for the visitors and like the first half, Cliftonville struck early and showed their Premiership class with two goals in the first ten minutes.
The Dromore girls didn’t let the heads drop and after restricting the home team to long distance shots, they began to get more possession of the ball.
With 65 minutes on the clock, Taggart picked up the ball just inside the Reds half. She took on the full back and drove towards the home goal. Once inside the box she side stepped another defender and passed to young Hannah Hughes who unleashed a great strike with her left foot giving Northern Ireland goalkeeper Anna Daly no chance in the home goal and make it 3-1.
This seemed to give the away side a bit of hope and as such they seemed to find a bit more energy and belief.
NI international Ruddy was now getting more of the ball and began running at pace at the home defence leading to a number of corners.
From one of these set-pieces, captain Orr sent a great in swinging corner into the heart of the Reds defence with Lisa Dummigan smashing the ball in to score her first ever goal for Dromore and make it very much game on.
More concerted pressure from the hosts saw the ball fall to Harbinson and she unleashed a wonder strike from 25 yards into the roof of the net to restore the Reds’ two goal cushion at 4-2.
With five minutes to go, the Reds sealed their place in the quarter finals with another goal to finally kill the championship side’s valiant effort.
Nonetheless, the Dromore girls came off the pitch knowing they had done themselves and the town proud. The 12 girls had all given their all and given a top side a real problem with lots of positives to take away from the game.
DROMORE: McClements, Orr, Walker, Smith, Martin, Dummigan, Kelly, Gibson, Taggart, Ruddy, Hughes. Sub: Young (Gibson).