BANBRIDGE Ladies Second XI travelled to Stormont on Saturday to take on NI Civil Service Second XI in the semi-final of the Junior Cup.
The teams had met twice previously in the league this season, both had been tough games, with a draw and a win for Bann on those occasions.
Banbridge started the game well with all the girls working hard to win the ball all over the pitch. It was Bann who kept the most possession but Service made things difficult for them with some strong defending.
Jayne Graham made some good runs down the right wing and worked the ball into the circle and Sara Rankin went close when the ball just went wide of the post. Rosie Waddell, Aileen Lawson and Cathy Rees battled in the midfield, at times against some physical play, and worked hard to support the attackers and defend when called upon.
Service did look dangerous on the break but Bann marked their players well and Diane Madeley and Jo-Anne Lyttle closed down any attack from the home side keeping them out of the circle.
Although both teams had opportunities, it was Bann who had slightly more of the attacking play but just couldn’t get the final touch. Kate Cunningham put some great long balls through to Amy Gray, Megan Whan and Ashleigh Mitchell but despite the chances, solid defending by the Service sweeper kept the girls from really gaining anything in the circle.
Just before half time it was Service who broke through the centre of the pitch and finished well from the top of the circle to beat the Bann ‘keeper and break the deadlock.
Banbridge went into the second half a goal behind but again fought to try and pull a score back. Sarah Anderson worked hard down the right wing, getting the ball across the circle but again Service defended well although Amy Gray did go close on a couple of occasions.
The defence were again kept busy with the Civil Service attack but closed down most of the play and Claire McMullan in goals also made some good saves to prevent further scores. Robyn Turkington continually made things difficult for the Civil Service defence making some lovely runs through from right back to feed the ball to the forward line.
Mid-way through the half, Service once again broke through Bann, splitting the defence and creating an opportunity for their player to put the ball into the net to take the score to 2-0.
At two goals down the Bann girls knew it would be an uphill struggle but still fought back hard. A switch at left midfield saw Helen Sawyers come on and make some good tackles and support the forwards who worked to try and win something in the circle.
As the clock ran down, it wasn’t to be Bann’s day and NI Civil Service will go through to the final.
Despite a disappointing result this week the Seconds should be proud of their efforts during this match and throughout the season. The seconds is largely a new team this year with a number of the girls making their debut at Senior level and the first season for the team with coach Robin Madeley.
To finish at least in second place in the league, secure promotion with a game still to play and to make it through to the semi-final of the cup is a great achievement and well deserved after the hard work put in by every member of the team at training and on Saturdays.
The Seconds will play their last match of the 2011/12 season at home on March 24 against Grosvenor Thirds.
Player of the Match this week was Aileen Lawson. Thanks to Sheree Totton for umpiring and to those who came to support the team.