The North Down thirds and Ards thirds local derby on Saturday at Portaferry Road promised to be a closely fought match and it certainly lived up to its expectations!
Playing away from home North Down fielded a team comprised of a well balanced combination of youth and experience. End to end attacking play ensured that the numerous supporters of both sides were well entertained. North Down managed to get the first break when right wing Lynsey Stevenson drove down the sideline and fired the ball across to a waiting Hilary West who put the visitors ahead. Ards quickly counter attacked and a slight hesitation by North Down’s defence let in the equaliser to make it 1-1 at halftime.
The second half continued at the same pace of the first half. Kirsten McBride and Sarah Moreland both tested Ards captain Zoe Bronkhorst’s team but North Down just could not get it in the back of the net, thwarted by some amazing saves from the Ards goalkeeper. Ards also had their attacking chances, but in her debut match 15 year old goalkeeper Grace Davis prevented them from scoring helped by a very calm sweeper Rebecca Neild. With ten minutes to go Hilary West, back from injury and obviously reliving her Ulster hockey days, picked up the ball from near the North Down circle, calmly dribbled round two Ards players, glanced up and fired a perfect ball to right wing Stevenson near the Ards circle, four steps in and wham, goal! Although Ards tried so hard to even the score, an excellent team effort with Megan Spence and captain Keri Portinga featuring strongly saw North Down hold out for a 2-1 victory in a very exciting local derby.
PMB Player of the Match: Megan Spence.