First point on the board.

By · April 24, 2014 · Filed in Match Report
The NIWFA Concentrix Premier league kicked off for the Mid Ulster girls with a home game against last years league runners up Crusaders Strikers. With the UTV cameras in place there were a few of the Mid Ulster girls with shinier boots than normal. Emma had her tattoo polished for the occasion and Samantha just didn’t believe it was all true.
The teams shake hands for the cameras!!

The teams shake hands for the cameras!!

Cathy Rees made her competitive debut for the Mid Ulster girls but this aside the line-up featured a number of regulars from the 2013 season. On a wet night at the sports arena both teams started a little hesitantly. Early pressure from Crusaders saw the first shot on target but Jacqueline Burns in the Mid Ulster goal gathered comfortably. Mid Ulster responded with a Cathy Rees break and a good cross from Samantha Kelly that just alluded everyone. The visitors were enjoying good spells of possession and forced a number of corners but there were no clear cut opportunities for either side. A foul on Samantha Kelly 40 yards out offered a chance of a breakthrough but Chloe McCarrons strike went just wide of the post. Crusaders responded with an attack that yielded a free kick of their own but once again the effort did not threaten. Sarah Connolly gave the home crowd something to shout about when her shot on the turn had the Crusaders keeper scrambling to gather at the second attempt. Once again Crusaders responded with a Jessica Doran shot but once again it went well wide. Further pressure from Crusaders saw a free kick well held by Jacqueline Burns and Mid Ulster replied with a good break from Aoife Curran and Cathy Rees. As the half drew to a close Crusaders finally made the breakthrough as Amy Burden raced onto a ball over the top and calmly rounded Jacqueline Burns to leave the visitors 1 up at the half time break. The 2nd half followed a similar pattern to the first. Crusaders possession, good defensive play from Mid Ulster and dangerous counter attacks. An early corner from Crusaders swung in dangerously but Jacqueline Burns was in control of her area claiming confidently. Mid Ulster captain Clarie Rooney was unlucky to pick up a booking for a foul on the edge of the area but Alison Smiths free kick rebounded off the wall and Mid Ulster countered swiftly. Sarah Connolly was off like a rocket and showed great composure to round the keeper and draw the game level with 51 minutes played. Unfortunately Noels head blocked out the TV highlights of Sarahs goal but she made the news all the same. Mid Ulster buoyed by the equaliser nearly repeated this from the kick off but Crusaders were not going to be caught out a second time and got back well. Crusaders went on the attack again and a super run saw Amy Burden hit the byline. Her pull back was met by her team mate and took a magnificent reflex stop from Jacqueline Burns to keep the score level. Crusaders pressure was building and Claire Rooney, Emma McFarland and Karen Donnell had to be on their toes to deal with the attacks. With 74 mins played Mid Ulster made a change with Hannah Turkington replacing Cathy Rees and two changes for Crusaders also took place. The substitution appeared to unsettle Crusaders as they struggled to deal with Hannahs pace and this opened up opportunities across the pitch. Adele Gillespie and Lisa Richardson linked up well down the left and only a dubious offside decision prevented a goal scoring opportunity for the busy Samantha Kelly. An even more dubious penalty claim followed for Crusaders but the referee was having none of it. Thankfully the crowd were adhering to the Fifa Respect campaign and the biggest insult aimed at the referee was “you are Benevolent ref” The game suffered a stoppage as Crusaders lost the impressive Jessica Doran due to injury. After the restart Mid Ulster pressurised again with Lisa Richardson playing a good ball in but the Crusaders keeper was on her toes As the clock ran down Crusaders won another free on the edge of box but once again the Mid Ulster wall did it's job. From the defensive clearance Chloe McCarron had a great run and shot. The Crusaders no1 could only parry and Samantha Kelly ghosted in at the back post but a good covering tackle cleared the danger. The final action of the game fell to Crusaders as Amy Burden had a shot that the Mid Ulster supporters were relieved to see blaze over the bar. Back to the kitchen for a cup of tea and bun after a hard won point. Final Score Mid Ulster 1 Crusaders strikers 1 Team: J Burns, C Rooney, L Richardson, E McFarland, K Donnell, C Rees (H Turkington), A Curran, C McCarron, S Kelly, S Connolly, A Gillespie. Subs not used C Barnes, L Sommerville, A Smith. The club would like to wish Crusaders Jessica Doran a swift recovery from her injury.