HOCKEY: Ballyclare Ladies drop into bottom half of league table

Rebecca Beattie for Ballyclare Ladies INNT 43-541-SO
Rebecca Beattie for Ballyclare Ladies INNT 43-541-SO

Defeat by Rainey Ladies dropped Ballyclare Ladies in to the bottom half of the Senior League Section 1 table.

A goal in each half gave last season’s Section 2 champions a 2-0 win at George Avenue, where home goalie Sara Coulter had one of her busiest matches to date.

As early as the 2nd minute she was beaten from a penalty corner, but the ‘goal’ was disallowed because the shot was from outside the circle.

During the first quarter Vikki Bratten’s girls were on the back foot, and eventually they fell behind in the 11th minute from a penalty corner.

Suzanne Dickey, Lorraine Ashcroft and Caroline Darragh worked tirelessly to get Ballyclare moving forward, and Rebekah Beattie was unfortunate to lose her footing when attempting to finish off a move involving Caroline McGookin, Rebecca Campbell and Jaquie Hanley.

Team captain Bratten was on the rough end of several robust tackles, but the resulting frees were cleared by a well drilled defence, while at the opposite end the home back four, well marshalled by sweeper Jade Purdy, emerged unscathed from a series of corners, to leave Rainey only one up at the break.

Following some stern words from coach Paul Hardy, who demanded more deliberate passing and quicker movement off the ball, Ballyclare improved in the second half. But they were unable to force home several penalty corners, with strikes by Beattie and Hanley being blocked.

Near the end Rainey made sure of the points with a second goal when two strikers broke through to leave Coulter badly exposed.

The win keeps the Magherafelt girls in touch with early pacesetters Banbridge and Raphoe.