WEDNESDAY saw Mid Ulster entertain Ballymena in the NIWFA Frudles Divisional Cup Semi Final. After an unmerited defeat last week in the league to Ballymena the Mid Ulster girls wanted to prove that they could back up a good performance with a result.
Mid Ulster started the game brightly and after seven minutes the busy Simone Magill won a free kick just inside the Ballymena half. Claire Brown stepped up to take the kick and played a great ball into the danger area which took a slight deflection of a Ballymena defender and into the net.
The Mid Ulster girls were buoyed by this great start and kept up the pressure with Simone Magill going close from another free kick minutes later. Next on the attack for Mid Ulster was Stacey Lee, who showed great feet to move the ball to Hayley O’Donnell who unleashed a great shot that was well saved by the Ballymena number one.
As the half progressed Ballymena started to get a foothold in the game and two corners in quick succession led to a great strike from Ballymena that went just wide. Mid Ulster reacted quickly with Lisa Richardson nearly latching onto a ball over the top.
On twenty one minutes Mid Ulster scored again when Adele Gillespie fired in a shot that the Ballymena number one couldn’t hold onto. Simone Magill was quickest to react and a great left foot finish saw her get her first of the evening.
The Ballymena keeper was certainly the busier of the two as the half wore on with saves to make from Adele Gillespie and Simone Magill. In the 41st minute she was to face a penalty when Adele Gillespie was taken out in the penalty area. With regular penalty taker Adele receiving treatment Simone Magill took on the job and made no mistake with the penalty to give the home team a 3-0 advantage going into the break.
Mid Ulster started the second half as they had finished the first and Simone Magill was on target again in the 50 minute as she calmly claimed her hat trick. Ballymena knew that it wasn’t going to be their night and challenges were becoming desperate as minutes later when Adele Gillespie was once again fouled in the penalty area by the Ballymena Keeper.
This time Adele brushed herself off to take the spot kick and she made no mistake as she drove the ball into the bottom corner of the net.
The Mid Ulster pressure continued with Adele hitting the bar and Mykylea Stewart going close from a header and the Ballymena keeper was certainly earning her keep. Ballymena still tried to pressurise and the always dangerous Alison Smith was unlucky to see an audacious chip go just wide.
The Ballymena girls just couldn’t find a way past Claire and Ruth Brown, Claire Rooney and Mykylea Stewart for Mid Ulster and in midfield Brooke Jordan and Hayley O’Donnell were bossing the game.
Stacey Lee and Lisa Richardson had further chances for the home team but once again a good save and the post saved Ballymena. With 30 minutes of the second half played Mid Ulster rang the changes with Emma McFarland and Chloe Barnes entering the fray.
It was at this point that Mid Ulster had the woodwork to thank as Ballymena hit the cross bar from a rare attack. From the resultant clearance Chloe Barnes was played through and even though she was only on the pitch a few minutes she showed great composure to slide the ball home and make it 6-0 to Mid Ulster. Mid Ulster kept up the pressure to the end of the game and as the final whistle sounded the girls celebrated reaching the Cup final.
Team: J Burns, C Brown, R Brown, M Stewart, C Rooney, H O’Donnell, B Jordan, L Richardson, S Magill, A Gillespe S Lee. Subs E McFarland, C Barnes, L Murphy
Next up for the Mid Ulster girls the final league game at home to Linfield on Tuesday 9 August 2011 at MUSA.