Ballymena started with determination and dominated the first 20 minutes of play in midfield but unfortunately could not convert this pressure into shots on target or penalty corners.
Tireless work from Gage, Crookes, Gillespie and schoolgirl Taggart, gave Ballymena the confidence to push forward for that elusive goal.
However things turned in Armagh’s favour in the last ten minutes of the first half, as they piled on the pressure and won three penalty corners all of which were dealt with effectively by an excellent defensive unit led by keeper Logan.
Into the second half it was a battle of strength, determination and fitness with both teams creating chances and defending with passion. Ballymena forwards Reynolds, Gillespie, Logan and schoolgirl King worked hard, linking up well to put pressure on the Armagh defence. Ballymena won a series of penalty corners but their usual slick execution was frustratingly off the mark this week.
Joanne Logan in goals made a crucial save close the end to keep Ballymena in it but the home team came away happy yet frustrated they didn’t grab the three points.
Ballymena: J Logan, S Morrison, C McCracken, G McBurney, A Crooks, E King, S Gage,
C Gillespie (C), R Reynolds, A Logan, E Gillespie, Z Dickson, V Hogg, H Taggart.
Grosvenor II 0, Ballymena II 4: The Seconds travelled to CIYMS on Saturday to play another league challenger Grosvenor 2nds.
Early on Ballymena displayed some excellent defending, through Harbinson and Greer, who alongside keeper Hanna with some top drawer saves kept their team in the game.
Midway through the first half the break came for Ballymena as an excellent passing move and intelligent play saw the ball fall to Laura Logan in the circle whose killer touch made it 1-0 to the visitors
Ballymena kicked off the second half with a high tempo, but on the counter-attack Grosvenor still remained dangerous, with Hanna again called into action saving a close range drive that was destined for the roof of the net!
The touch paper was well and truly lit and Ballymena sparked into life as McMaster provided another chance for Logan who on the reverse took the score to 2-0
Ballymena cranked up the pressure winning several penalty corners, which finally resulted in a penalty flick as a Grosvenor defender stopped the ball on the line. Up stepped Greer and duly despatched the ball for a 3-0 lead.
Grosvenor still fought on and for the last few moments pinned Ballymena into their own half, before Laura Logan broke on the left flank and with a great run dodged the keeper and unselfishly passed to Aimee Logan at the back post to wrap up the victory 4-0.
The team would like to thank Phil Moody for travelling to umpire
Seconds: L Hanna, A Harbinson, N Greer(C), H Dickey, K Kealey, L McClintock, K McMaster, S Reid, E Clarke, L Logan, A Logan, N McMullan, K Aiken.
Ballymena III 1, Cookstown II 0: The Ladies 3rd XI entertained Cookstown 2nds on Friday night at the Showgrounds.
The home team were rewarded on 15 minutes with a short corner for a foot infringement inside the D. From a well rehearsed drill, Charlene Law drove a clinical ball to the back post for Emma Johnston to divert into the net for a 1-0 lead.
Ballymena started the second half briskly and had a number of chances saved by the Cookstown ‘keeper but the counter-attack was always a threat, but Richmond in goals and the home defence dealt comfortably with the threat.
Thanks to Laura Logan and Rebekah Reynolds for umpiring and the home support for cheering on the team.
Thirds: K Richmond (GK), N Sloan, J Sutherland, L Steele, M Knox, J Lowry (C), E Johnston, L McClintock, C Law, J Kernohan, V Cooper, J Kennedy, A Marshall.
Ballymena IV 4, Bangor 0: The Fourths played Bangor on Saturday at home and enjoyed a well won victory with goals from Charlene Lorimer, Natasha Blair and two from Lorraine McClintock.
Fourths: R McCandless (GK), N Blair (C), L McClintock, R Barr, C McKernan, R Watt,
R McCloy, L Harkin, C Galbraith, S Lyle, J Fulton.
Armagh 0, Ballymena 0: Ballymena travelled to Armagh for their first away game of the league campaign.
Despite Ballymena missing a number of first team regulars they quickly found their shape and an Andrew Lorimer strike was disallowed with minutes left in the first half when the umpire had unfortunately opted for the short corner over the advantage.
The second half was an even contest with some notable save from the keepers at both ends. Ballymena: E Hampton, D Bradley, E Archer, A Crooks, C Fulton, K Murphy, J Russell
M Allison, M O’Neill, G Tumilson, A Lorimer, A McKeown, D McDonald.
Lisnagarvey VI 3, Ballymena II 1: The Men’s 2nd XI travelled to Lisnagarvey aiming to get the season’s first win under their belt. Garvey certainly had other ideas and for most of the first half had the visitors in awe of their fast moving hockey skills!
Limiting Ballymena to only two chances throughout the first 35 minutes, Garvey took a 1-0 lead midway through the half and bar some fantastic defending from Grimasson, McDowell and keeper Birrell could have trebled the score!
Chances came and went for Moody and Nicholl in the second half, but it wasn’t long before Garvey scored again from a short corner. A third soon followed, again from a short corner strike that gave Birrell no chance.
In the last ten minutes Ballymena got a goal back as Hanna broke out of midfield to connect with Barr at the back post.
Seconds: J Birrell, A Hanna(C), W Barr, J Grimasson, S Glass, T Cole, P Moody, D Bradley, P Nicholl, D McDowell, E Hampton, E Archer.