Finlay double sees Larne claim draw with leaders Ports

Michelle Finlay, seen here against Omagh, scored twice in Saturday's draw with Portadown.
Michelle Finlay, seen here against Omagh, scored twice in Saturday's draw with Portadown.

Larne Ladies 1st XI drew 2-2 with runaway Senior 1 leaders Portadown on Saturday.

Andy King’s side are only the second team to take points off the Ports, who are looking to return to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Larne, sitting in third place, have kept themselves within touching distance of a play-off, and a chance of joining Portadown in Ulster Hockey’s top-flight.

The home side began brightly but the Ports showed their class on the break and scored the opening goal against the run of play.

Larne’s fighting spirit, which has kept them in the hunt for promotion this season, rose to the surface and the impressive Michelle Finlay levelled matters when she finished off a super move created by club stalwart, Diane Henry.

But the home side, still on a high from their equaliser, were brought back to earth with a bump and Portadown took the lead again with a tidy finish.

To their credit, Larne came out fighting in the second half and reverted to their passing game which saw them dominate possession in good spells of the first session.

At times the visitors were left chasing shadows and Larne showed they have the ability to mix it with the best. The home midfield of Clare Holmes, Gillian Russell, Gillian Rennix and captain Ruth Dalton pulled the strings and helped ensure that the home side had the bulk of the chances.

But Portadown didn’t just cave in; they tested the strong defensive qualities of Leah Craig, and Rebecca Dalton, while Rainey Beggs and Leigh Snoddy were also having a superb game.

Left-back, and star of the show, Finlay popped up again to level proceedings after a clever short corner.

Great interplay between Laura Withers, Ingrid Carmichael and top scorer Zoe Purdy was almost enough to snatch victory for the home side, but Portadown shut up shop and defended superbly.

Larne: T. Neill, L. Craig, R. Beggs, Rebecca Dalton, M. Finlay, G. Rennix, G. Russell, Ruth Dalton (c), C. Holmes, I. Carmichael, Z. Purdy, L. Withers, L. Snoddy, D. Henry

Fixtures: Larne v North Down (2.30pm); Carrick II v Larne II; Saintfield III v Larne III.