Wednesday night brought the Mid Ulster Girls back down the M2 for a league fixture againgst Cliftonville.
The Belfast side were up for revenge after their narrow cup defeat and it wasn’t long before they took the lead. A speculative shot from Nicola Carlin from 30 yards caught everyone off guard as the ball dipped under Jacqueline Burns bar and gave the home side an early advantage.
After this early shock the Mid Ulster girls settled into the game, and Sarah Connolly was just beaten to a good through ball by the Cliftonville goalkeeper. Hannah Turkington also had a chance after a good burst down the right wing and whilst her pace took her into a good shooting position the resultant shot was off target.
Mid Ulster were being restricted to shots from distance as a disciplined Cliftonville defence proved themselves difficult to break down. Cliftonville did have chances to extend their lead but some solid defending from Claire Rooney, Claire Brown and Aoife Curran ensured that Burns had little to do.
The first half ended with a chance for each side as Jacqueline Burns punched clear a dangerous in-swinger of a corner from Cliftonville and then Gillespie saw her snap shot at the other end go just over.
Mid Ulster started the second half brightly and a great cross from Lisa Richardson saw Adele Gillespie get a shot away but it did not trouble the Cliftonville keeper. Cliftonville responded immediately and Aoife Curran had to make a good block to keep the difference only one goal.
Once again the action changed swiftly to the other end of the field with Chloe McCarron setting Hannah Turkington down the right wing and her cross just evaded Louise Murphy. Like the first half the majority of the game was being played in the middle third as both teams struggled to find the cutting edge.
A Mid Ulster substitution saw Stacey Lee replace Louise Murphy as Mid Ulster looked to try another striking option. Minutes later Cliftonville doubled their advantage much to the dismay of the travelling support. In hindsight the Mid Ulster defence will feel that they should have dealt with the ball down the right but as it was the cross went into the danger area and coupled with a lack of communication it was a Mid Ulster head that sent the ball goal ward.
Moments later another blow for the Mid Ulster team as Aoife Curran had to leave the field due to injury but her replacement Karen Donnell was more than up to the task.
Mid Ulster pushed on to try to get something out of the game and although Connolly and Stacey Lee both had half chances there was no return for them. With Mid Ulster pressing Cliftonville had their chances too and Burns had to be brave in clearing.
A disappointing result for the Mid Ulster girls who will be glad to return to home soil this Wednesday night 26 June when they entertain Ballymena.
MUFL: J Burns, C Rooney, A Curran (K Donnell),C Brown, L Richardson, C McCarron, H O’Donnell, H Turkington, L Murphy (S Lee), A Gillespie, S Connolly. Subs not used: C Bowden, D Suitor, E McFarland