Hat-trick for Judith as Arran settle for a point

Susie Murchie attempts to thwart a Hillhead attack.

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Arran Ladies 3
Hillhead Ladies 4s 3

Arran Ladies Hockey team played host to the Hillhead Ladies 4s on Sunday with a full team plus a couple of substitutes to help keep the energy high.

Returning to the Ormidale astroturf pitch to play their first home game since November last year, captain Lorraine Hewie won the toss and chose the push back over direction, wanting to start strongly from the off.  With Judith Ross on her right wing, young player Isla McKelvie was sharing match time with Hannah McCartney on the left wing.  This was another game experience opportunity for Isla, who knew she had a lot of support around her.

Susie Murchie and Mia Walker took up their positions on the mid-field wings, with the versatile Jenny Stark covering the vast area of the centre-mid player – ie, the whole central column of the hockey pitch.  A strong and experienced defensive line were going to make it as hard as possible to get the ball near goalkeeper Ali McKie.

Once Lorraine heard the first whistle she was off up the pitch with the ball, passing to Judith to sprint past the defenders and press into the ‘D’.  The ball rebounded out and Hillhead were very quick to send it back into mid-field where their young teammates were waiting to show off their excellent inter-passing play and stick skills that were so obviously practiced time and time again in training.

Strong blocking skills from Elyse Aitken at left back stopped any charge from the Hillhead right field players, and anyone trying to come down left field soon saw how incredibly strong and accurate Helen Thomson’s rockets shots were, as they often whizzed past the mid-fielders and into the visitors defensive quarter.  Young Megan McCartney as centre back, also enjoying some more game experience, demonstrated the skills she had learned in the junior hockey club, by collecting balls, darting round opponents and getting the ball to her teammates.

With two evenly matched and very determined sides, the ball flew up and down the pitch until Jenny was able to break through the Hillhead defence and made a super pass to Judith running in on the right.  Continuing to press forward and with a fluid single strike, Judith fired the ball into the back of the net 12 minutes into the game.

Knowing how quickly Hillhead could respond, Arran did not relax their concentration and another opportunity was created 10 minutes later, when Lorraine ran a sweeping line from mid-field to the ‘D’ where she was met by a solid wall of defenders. With a quick change of direction she saw a path for a well placed ball for Judith to collect.  Aware of her target Judith once again took another shot at goal that the keeper was unable to stop, taking the score to  two-nil where it stayed till the half time whistle.

Coming out quickly after the half time break, the Hillhead forwards were rewarded with an early short corner for a foul in the Arran ‘D’ and executed a well practiced, superb set piece which found the net, bringing them satisfaction for all the hours of training they had put into it.  Never ones to give up, the Arran Ladies came back with a strong attacking press and young Isla McKelvie prised the ball from her opponent and ran down the left wing into the ‘D’.  A fabulous pass to Judith saw her to use this cracking goal-making pass to find the back of the net once again with a lovely strike into the left corner, giving Judith her hat trick.

Hillhead returned pressure with a heavily manned attacking line into the Arran defence to be met with Cat Galbraith, returning as sweeper, who cleared many a running challenge on the goal.  Ellie Wood had moved up into centre back and was rarely seen off the ball in the last 20 minutes of the game, blocking and redirecting attacking shots from the opposition.  Elyse made an excellent goal line clearance on a ball that had come behind the keeper, but the Hillhead forwards returned time and again and eventually picked up their second and third goals late in the second half.  With the scores tied at three-all both team give it their all to try and break the deadlock, but both goalkeepers were fabulous at sending goal shots back into the field of play, leaving the end whistle declaring a draw.

The teams retired to the Ormidale Hotel, where Tommy Gilmore and his staff were waiting with a lovely after-match tea prepared by chef Andy Bell and Lindsey in the kitchen.  Ali McKie was voted dame of the game by the Hillhead ladies for her outstanding goalkeeping skills during the match.

Thanks goes to Pauline Reid for being there to umpire and to all the supporters who came along to cheer the team on from the sidelines.  It really helps the girls give their all hearing all the calls of encouragement.

The Arran Ladies are due to play  GHK Ladies 4s in Glasgow today (Saturday), weather permitting. The game will be at Glasgow High School Old Anniesland pitches with a push back time of 12.30pm.  All supporters will be very much appreciated and warmly welcome.