A Rebecca Campbell double and another by Jordan Jones weren’t enough to earn Ballyclare Ladies anything from their clash with Ballymena, who just shaded a seven-goal thriller.
Campbell gave Caroline Darragh’s girls the lead, but the teams turned round all square at Ballymena Academy Grounds, before the hosts forged ahead in the second half to finish 4-3 winners.
With regular sweeper Jacqui Hanley unavailable the Clare girls opted to operate with three at the back, but they settled in to the new formation quickly, and soon were ahead when Campbell rattled the backboard after receiving from Kerry McLeod.
The hosts responded with several penalty corners and eventually restored parity from one of them despite the goal-line efforts of Louise Holmes, Darragh and goalie Sara Coulter.
Early in the second session Jones finished off a well worked penalty corner routine to regain the lead, but then came Ballymena’s best spell.
They fired in three quick goals to lead 4-2, and only a stunning low save by Coulter from a penalty flick - her fourth of the season - prevented them from pulling further ahead.
Campbell netted her second late on, as Ballyclare pressed in vain for an equaliser.
Reflecting on the game, coach Paul Harvey said: “It was quite a satisfactory performance, but I was impressing upon the girls to track back faster to cope with Ballymena’s quick breakouts. We matched them for skill and were pressing to salvage a point in the closing minutes.”
The final league fixture will be on April 2 in Raphoe, but the evening before that will be the annual dinner and presentation of awards.
Meanwhile, Parkview Ladies, with one fixture to fulfil against Cooke, are still in with a chance of clinching the Senior League Section 4 title.
Full points from this one would bring them level with current leaders Instonians, but club PRO Kathy Morrison awaits date details from headquarters.
She said: “Instonians have completed their programme and have 23 points. We could match that with a win against Cooke, and with a superior goal difference that would bring the title to Doagh. However, as far as I understand if we fail to win, then we will be involved in a promotion play-off with the second bottom team in Section 3, probably Newry.”