LAST WEEK saw mixed fortunes for our women’s sides, who were both in League Cup Semi Final action.
The first team had a tough tie away where they lost 3-0 to current league leaders, Foyle Belles in the Division 2 Cup. However, our Olympic side had a happier time last Monday travelling to Banbridge Rangers in the Division 4 competition and coming away with a 4-1 win.
For the Olympic, the result was a real against the odds effort. With a number of the squad at the Foyle Cup with the Under 16’s, the Olympic only had eleven available players and had to start the game with just 10 players as Toni Millar was delayed.
However, it didn’t stop the Olympic ladies from taking the lead within 7 minutes when a ball down the line from young full back Christine Morton found the feet of Courtney Watson on the half way line. Beating 2 players, Watson cut inside and buried the ball in the bottom corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, the Olympic were making most of the play. Banbridge Rangers’ main threat was with a long ball and the pace of their young forwards. With Captain Paula ‘Peggy’ Mitchell, Corina Weekes, Christine Morton and the relentless Mollie McAllister, their attacks came to nothing.
Toni Millar was in the thick of the action after her late arrival and hit the post only minutes after coming on.
On 40 minutes, after a short water break in the stifling 24 degrees heat, Banbridge Rangers finally broke through and forced Olympic keeper Lauren McGuckin into conceding a penalty, which was duly converted for the equaliser.
There was still time for more drama before half time when on 47 minutes, Courtney Watson threaded through a slide rule pass to Laura Noble who outpaced the Banbridge Rangers defence and slotted home to restore the lead.
The Olympic struck again on 65 minutes when Aimee Shiels made a characteristic fierce tackle, squared the ball to Jessica McVeigh who played a delightful one touch pass into the path of Laura Noble for her to do what she does best and beat the keeper for the 3-1 lead.
With no subs to introduce fresh legs, Larne were starting to flag in the severe conditions but this newly formed Olympic team just never give up and after Courtney Watson hit the post on 80 minutes the result was confirmed when Toni Millar controlled a high ball on her thigh, switched the ball from her right to left foot and unleashed a thunderous strike to settle the tie and put Larne Olympic into the final.
Player of the Match was awarded to Mollie McAllister who covered every blade of grass for the team and was as energetic and nonstop in defence as she was going forward.
The Olympic face the daunting prospect of taking on Lisburn Rangers in the final after they beat St James Swifts II by an incredible 15-0 in last Friday’s second semi final.
Last Tuesday, Larne Ladies made their third journey away to Foyle Belles this season but it was unfortunately not third time lucky for the Inver Women. The first half began in very hot conditions with both teams struggling to break the other team down in a typically tense semi final. Foyle Belles got the important breakthrough by hitting Larne on the break and taking the lead.
Larne went straight onto the front foot from kick off and pressed for an equaliser, a breakaway down the right hand side seen Jenny Montgomery take on her full back and burst into the box only to see her crashing effort hit the bar and bounce clear of danger.
The second half began with Larne pressing for an equaliser however being restricted to shots from outside the area, but Foyle Belles scored their second of the game from a well struck free kick from 25 yards out that found the roof of the net to put some daylight between the teams.
With two goals needed to take the game to extra time Larne changed formation and pushed more up front with three at the back. Any ideas of a comeback were prevented by some good saves from Foyle Belles’ goalkeeper and the Inver Women were perhaps unlucky not to have a penalty.
With Larne pushing forward, the third goal came from a defensive mistake from a long ball that let Foyle’s forward through one on one in goal to finish the game off.
The Inver Women will brush themselves down and look to finish their three remaining league games off on a high with the league title and promotion still a realistic possibility. They start that promotion push with a trip to Omagh to play Mountjoy United on Wednesday night.