Having fought back from behind on no fewer than three occasions in Saturday’s thrilling Qualifying Plate tie at Randalstown II, Carrick Ladies eventually succumbed to their opponent’s superior fitness when they ran in two late unanswered goals to claim a 5-3 win.
Randalstown opened the scoring on 12 minutes from their first penalty corner but for the remainder of the half, play swung quickly from end to end as Carrick fought to get back on level terms.
Seven minutes from half time, their efforts were rewarded when two of their youngest players, Katie Mitchell and Jeni Leigh Patterson combined beautifully as a tightly marked Mitchell stroked home a hard-hit Patterson cross between two Randalstown defenders and the goalkeeper.
Randalstown went ahead again early in the second half, but within minutes Carrick midfielder Rachel Lynas set up Ashley McConnell to level the scores again at 2-2.
The renewed stalemate lasted no more than two minutes however when Randalstown finished off an excellent piece of tight interplay in the Carrick circle to go back ahead at 3-2.
When Natasha McWilliams centred a Christine Waide pass deep in the Randalstown circle, McConnell was again on hand to restore the stalemate to 3-3.
With only five minutes to go, Carrick were visibly tiring whereas the speedy Randalstown forwards still looked well capable of maintaining their punishing attacks. The visitors tried all they could to press forward and find a winner but a lightning counter attack by Randalstown left them cruelly exposed at the back as the home side went back ahead at 4-3. With only a minute to go, there was no way back for the exhausted visitors.
“I’m struggling to find the words to convey how proud we are of every one of our players today,” said Carrick president Peter Stevenson after the match. “Randalstown ultimately were worthy winners as we just couldn’t match their superior attacking fitness. But I’d have to say in relation to the final score, there definitely wasn’t a two-goal margin between the teams.
“I know the girls are disappointed and I can understand that. But hopefully when they’ve had time to collect themselves and think back on the match, they’ll understand why everyone at the club has nothing but positive thoughts about their performance.”