Banbridge Ladies 5ths are victorious in Armagh

The Ladies 5ths travelled to play Armagh in cold conditions on Saturday 4 December.

This fixture had been eagerly anticipated as the first meeting of the top two teams in the Junior 9 League.

Banbridge were keen to get off to a good start against the Ardmore-based side and held strong possession in the opening quarter with forwards Emily McCleane and Lynda McKinley forging some strong attacking moves. After sustained pressure in the circle, Banbridge won a short corner.

Taking full advantage of the opportunity, Julie Pollock slammed the shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the goal, leaving the Armagh goalkeeper with no chance.

Building on this 1:0 advantage in the second quarter proved possible due to particularly strong play from the midfield of Naomi Robb and Sarah Gamble who were able to carve their way through the Armagh defence forcing another Banbridge short corner. Julie Pollock received a fast ball out to the edge of the circle and her strike duplicated her first goal, with a carbon copy shot into the left of the goal to double the scoreline to 2:0.

Armagh seemed stunned to be behind but with their strong record in the League they did rally, making some promising runs through the middle, but any attack was thwarted by the defensive trio of Jane Murphy, Lydia Waugh and Sarah Burns.

Banbridge played smart - changing direction to avoid a solid Armagh press.

This tactic unlocked the right-hand side and a strong pass across the circle by newcomer Laura Greene almost led to another goal.

Shortly afterwards, Becky Maxwell linked up with Naomi Robb who found Sarah Gamble unmarked.

Sarah neatly slotted the ball into the net, leaving Banbridge 3-0 ahead going into the half-time break.

This top of the table clash was, at this stage, showing Banbridge as the much stronger side of the two, but Armagh proved their resolve and came back again making some nice runs through the centre of the field.

Sweeper Tara Ward had no issues dealing with these attacks and keeper Danielle Black made two excellent saves to keep the one-sided scoreline.

Armagh changed their forward line-up, bringing on fresh legs, and found a path through the Banbridge defence.

With a striker free in the circle, the home side were able to slot the ball into goal and pull the score back to 3:1.

Bann were determined not to lose this two-goal advantage and, after some words of encouragement and guidance from Coach Dane Ward, Bann 5s held possession for the remaining quarter to win the match and record a victory - and bragging rights as the only team to beat Armagh so far in the league.

Thanks to Dane Ward for umpiring.