Ballyclare Ladies fail to allay relegation fears

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Ballyclare Ladies missed a glorious opportunity to allay their relegation fears when they failed to get the better of fellow strugglers, Omagh Ladies.

The County Tyrone girls came to Foundry Lane as prime contenders to follow NICS Ladies into Senior League Section 2, but their 1-0 triumph keeps their survival hopes alive.

With 17 points, Ballyclare are two points better off than Omagh, who have a match in hand, but these two, along with Banbridge and Victorians, will have a tense end-of-season battle with one of them having to survive a play-off with either Dungannon or Knock.

Omagh got off to a flying start when home goalkeeper Sara Coulter had to retrieve the ball from the net after only five minutes, when a striker pounced on a loose ball.

Suzanne Dickey’s girls were slow to settle with passing errors allowing the visitors to dictate in the first quarter.

Their left winger was their star player, but she was well marshalled by Caroline McGookin who came out on top in several tussles.

For most of the first-half Ballyclare were on the back foot, with Coulter having to make several saves to prevent further damage.

Ballyclare’s main threat came from a few penalty corners, but shots by Victoria White, Jaquie Hanley, Vikki Milligan and Gillian McMaw were blocked, so Omagh turned around one up.

Omagh started the second session on the offensive, forcing two early penalty corners that were cleared, and, having weathered the storm, Ballyclare came more into the picture.

With Dickey, Joanne Fox, Kerie Bell and Lorraine Ashcroft working industriously in midfield, the ‘Clare girls took control in the final phases, but despite some fine efforts by Kerry McLeod up front they were unable to break down a resolute defence.

Ballyclare trudged off disheartened, knowing a draw would probably have secured their Section 1 status.

Ballyclare Ladies’ panel: S Coulter, G McMaw, V White, L Holmes, C McGookin, L Ashcroft, S Dickey (C), J Fox, K Bell, J Hanley, V Milligan, K McLeod, J Purdy.

Ballyclare’s two remaining fixtures are: Banbridge, home and Ballymena, away.