Wednesday, 22 March 2017
Cliftonville Ladies and newly promoted Ballymena United Allstars began their 2017 NIFL Danske Bank Women's Premiership season with a meeting at The Dub.
Cliftonville started the game on the front foot and took only nine minutes to open the scoring from a dangerous in-swinging corner from Celine Curtis, despite it looking to have taken a deflection off Ballymena player Hannah Henderson enroute to goal, the Reds striker was certainly claiming it.
The second goal was much more clear cut as Curtis volleyed past ex Reds goalkeeper, Anna Daly after a great cross from the right. Cliftonville debutants, Rebecca Cargill and Megan Weatherall combined well to make the score 2-0 on 27 minutes.
With the wind and momentum behind them Cliftonville continued to put pressure on the Ballymena goal with Cargill, Weatherall and Callaghan all had efforts but at half The Reds held a 2-0 lead.
Both teams made changes at the break with Molly White replacing Lisa Service for Cliftonville. Ballymena then started the second half brighter winning some dangerous free kicks around the area but couldn't do enough to trouble U19 Northern Ireland keeper Caoimhe Callaghan.
Cliftonville forced their way back into the game with Curtis, White and Nikita O'Neill causing the Ballymena backline trouble after some neat build up play from Callaghan and Weatherall down the left hand side. Weatherall again missed the chance to extend Cliftonville's lead as the visitors defence was able to sniff out the danger before she could get her shot away.
The Ballymena pressure finally paid off when Rebecca Smyth found the net after a pass from right back, Emma McGonnell, was intercepted as she tried to play her way out of danger.
After riding that storm Cliftonville sealed up the win after Emma McMaster, who had just replaced the injured Lauren Redpath, put Molly White through to then set up Curtis for the games final goal on 79 minutes.
Cliftonville Ladies: C. Callaghan, McCarthy, Redpath, Moran, McGonnell, Weatherall, M. Callaghan, Service, Cargill, O'Neill, Curtis subs Burgess (replaced O'Neill 90), Lewsley (not used), McMaster (replaced Redpath 51), Dodds (not used), White (replaced Service 46)
Ballymena United Allstars: Daley, Haley, Reynolds, McIntosh, Henderson, Young, McMullan, McDonald, Winter, Ali Smyth, R. Smyth subs McCartney (not used), Amy Smyth (not used), Boyce (not used), Fulton (replaced McIntosh 46), Berry (replaced R. Smyth 75)
Referee: Ken Gibbons
Tags: Cliftonville Ladies