Scarlett Holdsworth hit two of the goals as Lisnagarvey moved six points clear at the top of the Ulster Premier League following a thrilling 4-3 win over Mossley at Comber Road on Saturday.
Although they were never ahead, Mossley twice came back from two goals down to give the Hillsborough side plenty of cause for concern in an entertaining contest. But Garvey held on to widen the gap at the top of the table after Ballymoney surrendered their unbeaten record in losing 3-2 at home to champions Lurgan.
It’s been a good start to the campaign for Garvey, who have recruited some top players after being promoted from the second-tier last season. Triumphant coach Adam Louden declared: “We’ll take the win and we’re happy with the result but it’s very early days still and we’ve played more games than our main rivals.”
“There are stIll plenty of areas we need to improve upon and our penalty corner execution needs to be better for example.”
Mossley coach Davy Allen, whose team is still without a win, was delighted with the performance while disappointed with the result.
He added: “I was very proud of the team, who fought very hard and although we were missing five starting players who are on tour with their school in Holland, I’m not making any excuses.”
The game was marred somewhat by a nasty injury sustained by Mossley’s Rebecca McConnell, who was struck on the face by a rising ball in the closing stages. Her jaw was badly swollen as a result and she could be out of action for up to six weeks if X-rays show there is a fracture.
Garvey captain Holdsworth broke the deadlock in the eighth minute when she rifled in a penalty corner. But from their first real attack, Mossley replied in kind in the 26th minute when Nicola McMillan scored with a cracking shot from the left after their first penalty corner of the game. Three minutes from the break, Louise Hughes deflected home another set-piece to make it 2-1 to the hosts.
Holdsworth then set up Dawn Axon, who scored at the far post eight after latching on to a Holdsworth shot-cum-pass eight minutes after the break. But Mossley fought back again and McMillan fired in another superb shot from a corner in the 48th minute to reduce the deficit to 3-2. Holdsworth got her second with 13 minutes left to restore Garvey’s two-goal lead before McMillan set up Karen Dixon, who scored with a brilliant deflection four minutes later but it wasn’t enough to change the outcome.
At the Joey Dunlop Centre, Sarah McClure, Charlene Stewart and Jo-Ann Reid got the goals for Lurgan in their win over Ballymoney with Katherine Minihan and Nikki Parke replying.
Rainey got a much-needed win, beating Banbridge 2-0 with goals from Sara Semple and Ellie Stewart in Magherafelt.
In Senior One, CI beat Priorians 1-0 with a Katie Willis goal while Coeraine defeated fellow newcomers Castle 2-0 with strikes from Sue Nutt and Caroline Moody.
In the men’s Kirk Cup, holders Kilkeel got off to a winning start as Johnny Aiken’s late deflection gave them a 2-1 away win over South Antrim. The Lisburn team took the lead through Paul Maguire, but Kilkeel levelled just before the break through a short corner scored by Neil Stevenson.
Ex-Kilkeel player David Rae scored twice for Banbridge in their 3-1 victory over Civil Service while Newry were 4-2 winners over Portadown, with ex-Ports player Johnny Taylor scoring twice. Two other Kirk Cup games are scheduled for Tuesday, with Cookstown travelling to Bangor and Belfast Harlequins at home to Mossley while Civil Service face South Antrim on Wednesday.
“We played Bangor in the promotion-relegation match for the EYHL at the end of last season and they really made it very difficult for us,” said Cookstown captain Greg Allen.
“They haven’t lost this season in the Ulster Premier and that’ll give them a lot of heart coming into the Kirk Cup matches.”
Ulster Premier League: Ballymonery 2 (N Parke, K Minihan) Lurgan 3 (S McClure, C Stewart, J-A Reid); Lisnagarvey 4 (S Holdsworth 2, L Hughes, D Axon) Mossley 3 (N McMillan 2, K Dixon); Rainey 2 (S Semple, E Stewart) Banbridge 0.
Senior One: CI 1 (K Willis) Priorians 0; Coleraine 2 (S Nutt, C McNickle) Castle 0.
Pool A: Banbridge 3 (D Rae 2, A Tinney) Civil Service 1 (R Anderson); South Antrim 1 (P Maguire) Kilkeel 2 (N Stevenson, J Aiken).
Pool B: Newry Olympic 4 (J Taylor 2, C McKnight, K McCombe) Portadown 2 (R Bennett, M Bennett).