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MID-ULSTER CRASH TO OLD RIVALS

Mid-Ulster Ladies entertained their old rivals Donegal Celtic this week hoping to end a disasterous run against the Belfast team.

Coach Noel Mitchell tried a new formation for this match moving from the normal 4 at the back formation to a more attacking approach with an extra player being moved into midfield. The defence of Clare McGrath, Heather Hunniford and Karen Stirrupp took to this formation readily and were more than a match for the Donegal Celtic forwards. With the midfield being boistered by Ruth Brown and Natasha Stewart the Mid-Ulster girls were soon forcing the play and created several opportunities for the strikers, but Stacey Hodgett and Oonagh McCann could not find the net past the experienced Belfast keeper.

Both sides were well matched and despite chances at both ends the sides finished level at half-time.

HALF-TIME
Mid-Ulster 0 Donegal Celtic 0

Mid-Ulster seemed to take longer to settle in the second half and were punished shortly after the re-start when they failed to stop a cross coming in from the left and failed to pick up the Donegal Celtic player who swept the ball past Tracey Bell in the Mid-Ulster goal.

Showing the resolution that has become a part of their game this season the Cookstown girls went on the attack again. The midfield players Pamela Bates and Sharon McGuckin saw a lot of the ball and started most of the Mid-Ulster attacks but it was not until the middle of the second half when they saw their efforts pay some dividends.

Natasha picked the ball up on the right-hand side of the pitch and her accurate pass found Sharon unmarked in the Belfast penalty box. Sharon with a calmness beyond her years coolly slotted the ball into the left-hand corner of the net giving the diving Donegal Celtic keeper no chance and earning Sharon her first goal for the team.
Now on level terms the Cookstown girls pushed forward in search of the winner their play so richly deserved.

Neither team could find a way through until the Mid-Ulster players gave away a free-kick just outside their own penalty box. The ball skimmed off the wet surface and with the box so crowded keeper Tracey Bell only saw the ball at the last moment. A despairing diving to her right saw her miss making the save by only inches. Mid-Ulster were again on the back foot and despite their best efforts saw the Belfast side take all 3 points.

FULL-TIME
Mid-Ulster 1 Donegal Celtic 2

Player of the Match
Karen Stirrup

Adapted well to her new role in defence

Squad - Tracey Bell, Heather Hunniford, Natasha Stewart,
.............Karen Stirrup, Ruth Brown,.Sharon McGuckin
.............Pamela Bates, Julie Kirkpatrick, Stacey Hodgett,
.............Oonagh McCann
.............Elaine Junk, Judith Black