Craig’s strike proves crucial against Victorians

Larne's Gillian Russell on the attack in the match with Victorians. INLT 45-329-PR
Larne's Gillian Russell on the attack in the match with Victorians. INLT 45-329-PR

Larne Ladies defeated Victorians 3-2 at home on Saturday thanks to goals from Kerry McIlwaine, Michelle Finlay and Leah Craig.

It was the second meeting of the sides in as many months, with Larne having knocked the visitors out of the Irish Trophy during October.

The home side came out strong and managed to secure an early goal from McIlwaine, following some lovely passing play up the left-hand side of the pitch.

Victorians were a determined side and played some quality hockey, putting lots of pressure on Larne. Some excellent tackling from Rainee Beggs and the rest of the defence kept their dangerous forward play under wraps.

Larne then went two up thanks to a lovely piece of individual play from Finlay. Her run from left-back saw her penetrate the visitors’ defence and pass the ball towards the left post for Laura Withers to slot home.

Just before half-time Victorians managed to pull one back, with the ball eventually trickling over the line to halve the deficit.

Victorians came out battling after the break showing why they were a Premier side last season. Strong, fast counter-attacking and individual skill put lots of pressure on a Larne side who seemed to have lost some of their momentum.

Only some top-class saves from Trish Neill kept their attempts out of the goal. Larne came back into the match and thanks to some lovely play up the right managed to get the ball into the Victorians circle for Leah Craig to convert, restoring Larne’s two-goal lead. Larne had to play with nine players for the last part of the match due to some rash tackles and Victorians were able to capitalise on the confusion to slot in another goal.

Larne held on for a solid team result.

Larne: T. Neill, G. Russell, R. Beggs, Rebecca Dalton, M. Finlay, G. Rennix, Ruth Dalton (c), C. Holmes, L. Craig, K. McIlwaine, I. Carmichael, L. Withers, N. Kempton, S. Russell.

Goals from Zoe Purdy and Lauren Carroll (two) secured Larne Ladies II’s win in the Intermediate Cup over Ballynahinch Ladies Firsts.

Fixtures: 1sts away to Portadown (Friday, November 8); 2nds away to Grosvenor (Friday, November 8).