On Friday night, Randalstown 1sts headed up to Ballymoney for a late night match at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre.
Having already had a tight encounter against Ballymoney earlier in theseason, ‘Town were looking to try and get something from their first post-Christmas match.
Both teams had sustained periods of possession with a few squandered chances here and there. The keepers played vital roles, both making crucial saves to keep their team in the match.
Ballymoney scored a goal from a short corner to take the lead. However the ‘Town players knew they could get something out of the match and were rewarded with an equaliser.
A silky run from Katherine Elkin taking the ball around three ‘Money players before unleashing a low shot past the helpless keeper made the score 1-1.
Both teams tried to get the winner but it just wouldn’t come. Ballymoney finished the game attacking the ‘Town defence however the Randalstown players put everything on the line to keep the score line level.
Captain Emma Knox got injured with a ball to the lower jaw whilst defending wholeheartedly in the final moments of the game. She required a few stitches but will hopefully return to action this weekend. In the end, it was a well deserved point for Randalstown on a cold Friday night.
Randalstown II 5, Victorians II 1: Randalstown 2nd XI had an early home fixture against bottom of the table Victorians 2nd XI on Saturday.
Looking to continue from their impressive win the previous weekend, Randalstown dominated early possession but seemed to squander a few early chances.
‘Town continued to get more into the game and grew in confidence knowing the sustained pressure would finally be rewarded. It soon was in the form of a penalty corner. The ball out from Kerry Coulter was hit directly into the goals past the keeper for the opening goal.
Randalstown continued to control possession and play some nice passing moves but it took some time before they doubled their lead.
A lovely one-two move between the McGrillen sisters allowed Catherine to cut through from outside the 25-yrd line, easing past 2 defenders forcing the keeper to come out away from the goals. Catherine then dinked the ball over the onrushing keeper to leave her sister Jayne the simplest of tap-ins to the open net.
After this, Randalstown with confidence growing more keep heaping attacks on the Victorians defence and after a couple of near misses, Town got a couple of short corners. One of these was turned home by Ashleigh Grant with a good drag shot, the first goal in several years for the defender. ‘Town went in 3-0 at the half.
The first few minutes of the second half were a little dodgy for the Town team, who seemed a bit sluggish and allowed Victorians early possession. However ‘Town soon turned this around.
Another corner opportunity allowed Ashleigh to double her goal tally. The initial shot was saved by the keeper but she parried back to Ashleigh who buried it in the net.
Midway through the half Randalstown got their fifth goal of the afternoon, Victorians struggled to clear their lines with the continued ‘Town attacks and Becci Grant was able to hit home a loose ball in the circle.
Despite the good afternoon, ‘Town switched off in the final minutes and allowed Victorians to get a goal back to add a slight blemish to their almost perfect afternoon. The match ended 5-1 with Randalstown in good shape heading into 2 Cup matches over the next fortnight.
Randalstown III 2, Ballyclare II 1: Boosted after a comprehensive win over Dungannon last week, Randalstown 3rds stepped onto the forum pitch on Saturday looking to replicate that form.
Both teams started the match hungry for possession resulting in fast paced end to end play. The Randalstown back line of Ruth Gleghorne, Debbie Quigley, Holly Reid and Ashley Nesbitt however were impenetrable, making well timed tackles, and keeping their circle clear of attack, leaving keeper Carys Brown with very little to do for the majority of the first 20 mins.
This excellent defence allowed the midfield to dominate the possession, creating several chances for the forwards in the circle. This sustained pressure resulted in winning a penalty corner, which was converted from a pass by Emma Clarke to Jayne McGrillen in front of the keeper, who slotted the ball home for the first goal of the game.
Randalstown kept up the pressure in the opposition circle, winning several more penalty corners but unfortunately not converting any of these into goals. Ballyclare continued to be dangerous on the break and just before half time made a run into the Randalstown circle. Their first two shots on goal were deflected by the keeper, but the third made it into the net to leave the score at half time 1-1.
After the turnaround at half time Randalstown returned with renewed focus, again dominating the possession in the midfield with Kirsten Black and Kerry Coulter making attacking runs into the opposition circle. Both Jacqui Robinson and Laura Murray had several shots on goal but with none making it to the back of the net.
The winning goal came from Randalstown when Becci Grant hit a reverse stick shot from the edge of the circle, rocketing past the keeper.
Randalstown continued to hold off the retaliating attacks from Ballyclare with Kathryn Graham making important clearances and the defence as a whole successfully defending two penalty corners. Thanks to umpire Lenny McKee.