Mid Ulster hosted Glentoran Belfast United at the Mid Ulster Sports Arena twice in the week just passed.
First up was a league match on Wednesday with Glentoran returning on Friday for a place in the semi-final of the league cup.
Both teams were missing a number of first team players through injuries and holidays, which gave a chance for a few fringe players to stake a claim for a regular place in the starting line up.
The game began at a very high tempo, and Glentoran nearly took the lead after only 30 seconds when Mid Ulster goalkeeper Jacqueline Burns was forced to parry away a low goalbound shot.
The breakthrough came after 11 minutes, again down the Glentoran left, with Demi Vance making a surging run down the touchline before firing in a dangerous cross, which took a minor deflection before falling at the feet of Bailie, who fired first time drive high into the net.
Mid Ulster picked up the tempo after this and enjoyed a good spell of pressure with midfielder Samantha Kelly making some really impressive runs with the ball, and creating half chances for Sarah Connolly and Adele Gillespie.
On 21 minutes a ball was driven in to the box and struck defender Karen Donnell on the arm. The referee perhaps slightly harshly pointed to the spot and awarded Glentoran a penalty, which was confidently converted by Bailie.
Burns guessed well and went the right way, but was unable to reach the ball, such was the quality of the strike.
Mid Ulster again responded well and started passing the ball around and bringing the game to Glentoran.
However, any momentum they were building was interrupted five minutes later when Alice Smith aggravated an injury and she was replaced by Jessica McGurk who returned to the Mid Ulster colours replacing her.
The stoppages for injuries resulted in some added time at the end of the half and Mid Ulster took the opportunity to get back into the game.
Adele Gillespie received the ball into feet, took a couple of steps and hit a looping shot from 25 yards. Glentoran goalkeeper Ashleigh McKinnon scrambled across her goal, and got a hand to the ball, but was unable to stop the shot.
Mid Ulster’s goal seemed to spur Glentoran into life, and they immediately put some pressure on the Mid Ulster defence.
An injury time strike from Wade, a stunning half volley, restored Glentoran’s two goal lead.
Mid Ulster enjoyed spells of possession in the second half and they nearly pulled one back when Chloe McCarron ran 40 yards and burst through the Glentoran defence, but her shot was just wide.
Glentoran were still determined to increase their lead but the Mid Ulster girls worked hard to maintain a clean sheet in the second half and the game finished 3-1 to the visitors.
Friday night saw the return of Glentoran for the league cup fixture and with Alice Smith out through injury it was the bare 11 for Mid Ulster with the veterans on the bench as the emergency subs.
The Mid Ulster girls started well and held the more experienced Glentoran team scoreless until midway through the half when a well worked Glentoran move saw Jessica Wade tap home a good cross.
Glentoran’s lead was doubled shortly afterwards when Annie Timoney slotted home but she picked up a knock in the process and this ended her involvement in the game. With the score poised at 2-0 at half time Mid Ulster were still very much in the game but options were limited for the Mid Ulster manager Noel Mitchell with players already playing through the pain barrier and striking options on the bench.
The Mid Ulster girls worked hard to find a breakthrough in the second half but it wasn’t to be and the result was wrapped up when Glentoran were awarded a penalty which Kellie Baillie expertly dispatched to leave the final score 3-0.
Things don’t get any easier for the Mid Ulster girls as they travel to Dunmurray on Wednesday night to take on Linfield in the league again with a seriously depleted squad.