Glentoran maintained their six-point lead at the top of the Sports Direct Women’s Premiership with this solid home win at Ashfield this evening.
Kim Turner made a number of changes from last week’s cup win at Larne. Skipper Jess Foy was available to return at left back. The absence on Northern Ireland midfielders Nadene Caldwell and Nadene Caldwell gave starting opportunities to Megan Neill in midfield and Jenna McKearney at right back (with Annie Timoney moved to central defence and Emma McMaster beside Neill and Demi Vance in midfield). Keeper Ellie Scott and forwards Emily Wilson and Kerry Beattie returning to the eleven after starting on the bench at Larne. Ashleigh McKinnon, Sarah Tweedie and Rachel Rogan were listed among this week’s subs.
It was Megan Neill who opened the scoring for Glentoran, but not until 42 minutes into the game. Prior to that the Glens had dominated play entirely, but as with last week at Larne, a very packed and well drilled defence held the league leaders at bay. Particularly good was keeper Lilie Crooks, who pulled off a number of very impressive saves. Immediately prior to the opening goal Emma McMaster had a headed goal disallowed.
When the goal came it was no more than 18-year-old Neill deserved for an all-action performance against her old club. She received the ball on the left side and after controlling the pass she shot into the top far corner from outside the box. That was the only way this deadlock was going to be broken and the Glens took a one goal lead into the break.
The second half started in a similar vein with the Glens dominating and Mid Ulster resilient. However this time it took only five minutes for the Glens to double their lead. Keeper Crooks parried Emily Wilson’s shot and top scorer Kerry Beattie was on hand to score the rebound for her 20th goal of the season in all competitions.
Kerry Beattie gets the second
From this point on it was the Joely Andrews show as the reigning Women’s Premiership Player of the Year hit home a twelve-minute hat trick. Her first came on 75 minutes when a powerful left wing run and pinpoint low cross across the Mid Ulster goalmouth from Demi Vance was turned home by the lurking Joely. Five minutes later a great through ball from Megan Neill sent Andrews away and the Glens number 17 delivered a clinical finish.
Joely completed her hat trick with a volley three minutes before time, to give the Glens a hard worked but ultimately comfortable win to retain their six-point lead over Cliftonville and Sion Swifts, both winners tonight.
Next up for the Glens is another home league game next Friday (4th August), this time facing seventh placed Larne Ladies.
Glentoran Women: Ellie Scott, Jenna McKearney, Jess Foy (c), Annie Timoney, Kelly Bailie, Emma McMaster, Demi Vance, Joely Andrews, Megan Neill, Emily Wilson, Kerry Beattie
Subs: Ashleigh McKinnon, Sarah Tweedie (for Foy 74), Kascie Weir (for Vance 80), Maeve McConaghy (for Bailie 80), Kirsty Cameron (for Neill 80), Rachel Rogan (for Wilson 74)
Hat Trick hero Joely Andrews
Photography by Johnny Caldwell