Ulster sides recorded one win, a draw and two defeats across our four games on the final day of the 2023 Talent Academies Festival.
Goals from Emily Adamson, Chrissy Hopkins and Gracie McNally rounded off a 3-1 win for the girls against Durham, whilst George Palmer’s strike against Team Bath Buccaneers was not enough to get a result.
Ulster 1-3 Bath
The day got underway with our boys taking on Team Bath Buccaneers and they got off to the perfect start when the aforementioned strike from George Palmer opened the scoring from a short corner.
However, the match was a tight encounter with both sides pushing forward and often looking like a goalscoring threat. Eventually, Ulster’s luck ran out as they were left to rue a handful of misses before Bath found their equaliser.
Come the third quarter our boys were on the back foot and down to ten men for a controversial yellow card midway through the quarter. Bath continued to pile on the pressure but for the most part, Ulster kept them at bay.
With just ten minutes left in the game, the pressure told as Bath took the lead via a short corner, leaving Ulster with it all to do in a short space of time.
Whilst their heads could have dropped, instead they showed a brilliant response creating chance after chance in search of an equaliser but couldn’t beat the opposing goalkeeper.
Then with just two minutes remaining Bath got their third of the morning with the goal coming against the run of play. The strike not only gave them a two-goal advantage but confirmed a 3-1 victory for our opponents.
Ulster 2-2 Old Loughtonians (OL win on run-ins)
Following their 4-1 victory over Wales, the other boys’ side were hoping to continue their momentum as they took on Old Loughtonians.
The boys were up against it from the start as they faced a strong side who from the start showed plenty of attacking prowess.
Despite being under pressure early, it was Ulster who opened the scoring as Ben Law’s drag flick picked out the corner with just nine minutes played. However, the lead wouldn’t last long as just two minutes later their opponents scored from a short corner of their own.
With 20 minutes played Old Loughtonians took the lead after a period of dominance following their equaliser. Again the lead wouldn’t last long as just eight minutes later we won another short corner which was converted by Ben Thompson.
With the scores level at half-time, the second half saw the Ulster defence come under constant pressure, but the young squad managed to deal with everything that was thrown at them as the scores remained 2-2 at full-time.
As a result, the sides went to penalty run-ins which despite the Ulster goalkeepers keeping two out, it was Old Loughtonians who ran out victorious 4-3.
Ulster 3-1 Oxford Hawks
The Ulster girls went into this game on the back of two defeats and were hoping to end their trip to Nottingham on a high, especially given their performances in the other fixtures.
A slow start for the girls saw them fall behind early and leaving them with it all to do. As the game went on there were signs of improvement and of attacking intent.
From there Ulster played to their full potential as they found their equaliser before scoring two more goals in quick succession. Emily Adamson, Chrissy Hopkins and Gracie McNally grabbed the goals and completed the turnaround.
The latter stages of the game were then well managed by the young Ulster side as they took control of the game and in the end, came out on top with a 3-1 victory.
Ulster 1-4 Durham
In our final game of the day our second girls’ side was looking to get a result that their performance against Wales deserved a day prior.
That day the girls dominated from start to finish, yet were on the wrong end of a 2-0 loss.
The game got underway at 1:30pm and again the Ulster side got off to a slow start as they fell behind early before going into the first break a goal behind.
Despite an improvement in performance in the second quarter, Durham extended their lead after a well-worked move was finished off by the Durham forward.
Ulster then showed a positive response in the second half and began to fashion opportunities for their forward players on a regular basis. Unfortunately, the Durham goalkeeper was successful in maintaining her side’s lead.
Eventually, Ulster’s luck did change as they worked it well down the right flank before a loose ball in the penalty area was smashed past the goalkeeper. However, it would prove to be nothing but a consolation goal as they lost 4-1.