Derby date to provide the next top-flight league test for ladies

Nicola Evans proved in superb form against Pegasus.
Nicola Evans proved in superb form against Pegasus.

Portadown ladies’ firsts conceded in the opening and closing stages on Saturday against highly-rated Pegasus during another testing Premier League afternoon.

The 2-0 defeat at Edenvilla Park arrived off the back of a midweek reverse to Ulster Elks by 6-1, with Portadown conceding on three occasions inside the final 12 minutes.

“The match against Ulster Elks was a much-improved performance compared to our fixtures before Christmas,” said Jane McKimm, the Portadown ladies’ head coach. “It was a battling performance in the first half.

“We displayed continued improvement against Pegasus on Saturday and really stepped up against a top team.

“We absorbed pressure, especially in the second half, plus created some good chances and defended well.

“The players looked organised and worked really hard, with the defence excellent and goalkeeper Zoe Jackson producing some strong stops.

“We have a good mix of youth and experience so, overall, displayed plenty of positive signs and could even have had an equaliser off Jenni Martin’s deflected hit.

“Young players like Emily McStea, Abbie McCullough and Jenni are working hard alongside experienced people such as captain Pam Gilpin, Leanne Cassells, Kim Scott and Jill Guiney.”

Cassells’ penalty corner strike cut the gap to 2-1 against Elks but a goal late in the half then three across the final moments increased the deficit.

Pegasus scored on 12 minutes then with the final play.

The presence of international experience, past and present, across the Ulster Elks and Pegasus squads helped provide Portadown’s opponents with the upper hand.

“We visit Lurgan this weekend,” said McKimm. “It is always a difficult game but we are hoping we can keep on showing the same positive signs.

“Our thirds enjoyed a 1-0 win against Grosvenor last weekend to sit second in the league, with Wendy Cowan the scorer.”