BANBRIDGE Ladies played their second pre-season friendly on Friday night and a great competitive game was played out on a fairly chilly evening at Cheney Park.
Lisburn Ladies started the stronger of the two teams and forced the Banbridge keeper Charmain McCrum into showing great reactions and a strong stop.
As game played on this early wake-up call saw Banbridge gradually begin to get a grip on the game. Twenty minutes in a great through ball from Michelle Spence saw Gemma Jackson bursting into the box and forcing a Lisburn defender into making a foul. The resulting penalty was taken by Gemma who blasted the ball with her left foot to confidently convert the opportunity. Shortly after this Emma McMullan was forced to withdraw from the game with a suspected broken wrist. However after 25 minutes Lisburn took full advantage of a goal mouth scramble from a corner and the ball was bundled over the line.
From the restart another great ball from Jackson was squared into the box and Roya Loughlin struck well but narrowly passed the post.
The half hour mark saw Lisburn again breaking from mid field and their number nine shooting well to beat the Banbridge keeper.
Half time saw Banbridge trailing but encouraged by their coaching team they came out in defiant mood to start the second half.
Banbridge’s midfield began to dominate and again Michelle Spence broke strongly into the Lisburn box but a Lisburn defender denied her a shooting opportunity with a well timed sliding tackle. Banbridge continued to come forward and another cross to Lauren Redpath saw the Lisburn keeper at full stretch to deny a well struck shot.
The Banbridge pressure continued to grow with Becky Napier charging once more into the box and again forcing a Lisburn defender into making an ill-judged challenge resulting in a second penalty decision. Napier stepped up in a confident mood and stroked the ball into the net, sending the Lisburn keeper the wrong way.
The final five minutes saw Lisburn pile on the pressure and a clever goal bound chip was confidently dealt with by the home keeper. The home defence demonstrated great resiliance and stood strong to see the match out and a well deserved 2-2 draw. Over all this was a much improved performance by the home team. The coaching staff have been working hard on fitness levels in this pre-season and the results are really beginning to show. All areas of the team played very well with praise levelled to the midfield partnership in particular.
Next up for Banbridge is another challenging friendly against Portadown Ladies with the season itself due to commence on April 19. The opening fixtures have been kind to Banbridge who must take full advantage of having three home games in their first four games.
Team: Charmain McCrum, Katie Lennon, Emma McMullan, Lynn Johnson, Aisling Cull, Becky Napier, Gemma Jackson, Hannah Hopkins, Becky Irvine, Lauren Redpath, Michelle Spence, Roya Loughlin, Tina Brush.