A CLOSE to capacity crowd attended the Mid Ulster Sports Arena on Wed 2 May for the visit of Linfield in the Euro Electrix Premier League.
The Mid Ulster line up was a mixture of youth and experience and the game saw a senior debut for Samantha Kelly from Castlecaulfield.
Mid Ulster started well and with 5 minutes played a good ball through from Claire Rooney was picked up by Simone Magill. She had timed her run to perfection beating the offside trap and calmly slotting the ball home past the advancing Linfield keeper.
From the restart Linfield were out to even things up but some steady defensive work from Claire Brown, Lisa Richardson and company kept the score as it was.
After 13 minutes Mid Ulster had to make an enforced change with Hannah Turkington replacing the injured Louise Murphy. The game continued with Mid Ulster continuing to exert pressure and the direct ball through to Simone Magill was still causing problems.
Emma McFarland seized on one such opportunity as she fed a ball through from right back. Once again Magill was on hand to make some space and unleash a great shot to the top corner to make the score 2-0 to the home team. Although the Mid Ulster girls were having the better of the attacking opportunities the visitors were still a threat. Good closing down in the middle from Ruth Brown and Hayley O’Donnell was nullifying the threat and providing opportunities for Samantha Kelly to astound the spectators with the quality of her performance from one so young.
On the other wing Hannah Turkington was also showing great awareness and it was from her ball through that Simone Magill got her hat trick as she danced through the Linfield defence to finish once again. Linfield kept battling and a free kick on the edge of the Mid Ulster box required Jacqueline Burns to be on her toes to gather well and restart the Mid Ulster attack once more.
Chances came and went for Hannah Turkington and Simone Magill and a Mid Ulster free kick was well defended by the Linfield back line. As the half drew to a close Ruth Brown and Hannah Turkington created another opportunity for Simone Magill and Sunnie once again did the business as she tucked away number 4. So the half time whistle sounded with the Mid Ulster girls in a healthy 4-0 lead.
Mid Ulster started the second half as they had finished the first and an early free kick was floated into the Linfield box. Claire Rooney attacked the ball well and she was unlucky to see her header go just over the crossbar.
Linfield rallied by this let off went down the other end and took their chance as a ball across the 6 yard area eluded everyone apart from Linfield’s Nicola Gray.
This lifted the Linfield squad and Mid Ulster players had to really battle for every ball. Samantha Kelly was still providing a threat as was Michelle Scott and Simone Magill and the match was a delight to watch for the neutral. With 15 minutes of the game remaining Linfield scored their second with Nicola Gray again on target and the game was set up for a tense finale.
Mid Ulster made a further change with Rebecca Edwards coming into the midfield. More pressure from Linfield and the home support were glad to see the ball in the safe hands of Mid Ulster No.1 Jacqueline Burns. Abigail Edwards was the final replacement for Mid Ulster as the girls finished off the game on the attack.
Wouldn’t you know it was player of the match Simone Magill but this time the post came to Linfields rescue and the game finished with a final scoreline of Mid Ulster 4 Linfield 2.
Team: J Burns, L Richardson, C Rooney, C Brown, E McFarland, S Kelly, L Murphy (H Turkington), (R Edwards), H O’Donnell, R Brown, M Scott (A Edwards), S Magill.
Next up Mid Ulster v YMCA at Mid Ulster Sports Arena Monday 14 May 7.30pm