The Ballyclare – Larne hockey derby proved to be a ding-dong eight-goal thriller, with Lorraine Ashcroft’s late strike sealing the 5-3 Senior 1 win for the hosts.
After turning round two down at Foundry Lane, Larne staged a second-half recovery to set up a tense finish.
With the score delicately poised at 4-3, Ashcroft ended the visitors’ hopes when she drilled in number five.
Despite heavy overnight rain, the artificial pitch at Ballyclare High School survived an early morning inspection and the hosts were ahead early on when captain Caroline Darragh rattled in a Kerry McLeod cross.
Louise Holmes and Ashcroft combined effectively down the left flank and from one of their thrusts Holmes set it up for Beattie to double the lead.
Jordan Jones then completed a solo dash through the middle, slotting the ball past the keeper to make it 3-0 at the turnaround.
Larne kept fighting and were eventually rewarded with a goal from Gillian Russell, leaving the score 3-1 at half-time.
Early in the second session Jaquie Hanley restored Ballyclare’s three-goal advantage.
Larne’s luck didn’t get any better after this, with three different players receiving time in the sin bin. At one stage they were left with just nine players on the pitch.
But they battled on and further goals from Russell and Beth McVeigh set up a nervy final five minutes before Ashcroft had the final say.
Reflecting on the game, Ballyclare’s keeper Sara Coulter said: “There is always a lot of rivalry between the Ballyclare and Larne teams, and this local derby lived up to expectations. It was played at a high tempo, and became quite physical from time to time.
“We deserved to be ahead at the break, but Larne came at us strongly, and only excellent defending prevented them from drawing level.”
Ballyclare Ladies: S Coulter, J Purdy, K McLeod, C McGookin, L Holmes, S Dickey, C Darragh (C), L Ashcroft, R Beattie, J Jones, J Hanley, R Maybin, J West.
Larne Ladies: L. McClelland, R. Love, N. Kempton, L. Snoddy, L. Booth, S. McGookin, G. Rennix, P. Crawford, B. McVeigh, G. Russell, D. Henry.