Arran top after tough win over Uddingston

The Arran defence stands firm as Uddingston attack.

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Arran Ladies   2

Uddinstston Clinetix Ladies 3s   1

Arran Ladies sit top of the league after a hard fought win over Uddingston Clinetix Ladies 3s  in Brodick last Saturday. They have 27 points from 11 games and have a game in hand over second placed Greenock Morton Ladies.

They  took to their home pitch with determination as they faced long-term rivals Uddingtson.  With a full squad of 16 players, captain Elyse Aitken devised a complex strategic plan of rolling substitutions to give players welcome rest time throughout the match. Arran’s defensive line was comprised of goalkeeper Alison McKie, sweeper Faith McKelvie and the strong line of Helen Thomson, Ellie Wood and Elyse with Freya McNicol and youngster Megan McCartney filling in when needed. Mia Walker, Jenny Stark and Susie Murchie took to their midfield positions assisted by the young and super speedy Annie McKelvie, whilst Judith Ross, Anne Watts and Hannah McCartney, along with Cerys Herapath and Isabella Reid, assumed attacking positions upfront.

From the first whistle it was obvious that Uddingston were set out for a win, with their attacks on ball strong and ferocious. Arran Ladies remained head-strong and focused and executed some lovely set plays and excellent tackling. Early on, the home team were awarded a penalty corner, which Uddingston cleared before swiftly conceding another. The second penalty corner saw a solid shot on goal by Susie which the keeper sadly managed to get her pads to.

Play continued evenly between both teams, largely down the left hand side of the pitch. Uddingston were then awarded their first corner of the match, which goalkeeper Ali wasn’t for letting in, as she booted the ball back down towards Arran’s attacking half. As half-time approached, Umpire Pauline Reid blew her whistle to signify the end of play. Players from both teams looked to her with surprise as many time play on their watches and thought they still had five minutes. Pauline graciously accepted her mistake after collaboration with the other umpire, and play resumed with a ‘bully-off’. Despite winning the bully, Arran were unable to capitalise on the advantage in their attacking half and the half-time whistle blew with the scoreline at 0-0.

Arran entered the second half with an official warning to watch their 5 metre distances when the ball was being taken – the next team offence would result in a card. Play resumed much like the first half, with determination and skilful passing from both teams, with play passing to one end of the field to the other and players running their socks off.

In the 19th minute, Isabella was unfortunately caught out by the warning of 5m offensives and received a green card. Uddingston capitalised on this 2 minute advantage of having one extra player and, with some clean and accurate passing, drew out Arran’s defence to set their high forward up with a one-on-one with goalkeeper Ali, and managed to score the first goal of the match.

With all 11 players back on the pitch, and resolute to get the scoreboard even again, Arran went on the attack. Their efforts were rewarded in the 29th minute, as Jenny’s direct and strong free hit from the half way line was stopped by Hannah at the top of the ‘D’ and passed to Anne in the centre, who fired it in to the back of the goal.

With five minutes to go, and all to play for, both teams were looking for a winning goal. Spurred on by equalising, Arran Ladies pushed up once again. Mia passed the ball from the right, where Judith skilfully collected it, turned and drew the defence out. Judith nudged the ball to Jenny at the top of the ‘D’, who fired it in towards the post where Anne dived to get a stick to the ball and put it into the goal under the keepers feet.

With a 2-1 lead and only minutes left, Arran couldn’t rest on their laurels. Uddingston came back with a vengeance and broke through Arran’s defence to take a solid strike on goal. Ninja keeper Ali, however, made the save of the match as she dived and deflected the ball away. As the visiting team took their long corner, Mia fell culprit to the 5m offence and was sent of the pitch with a yellow card in the closing minute. As the final whistle blew, Arran Ladies cheered their thanks to Uddingston and then congratulated each other on a hard-fought and well-deserved win.

One Arran player said: ‘The whole team deserve a massive shout out, for keeping their cool and for their pure tenacity on pitch. Everyone played their socks off and gave the much needed 110 per cent to win the game, but a special mention to our youngsters coming up against such a difficult opposition. Annie, you were in for every ball, Bella you never gave up challenging your opponent and Megan your jab tackles prevented the opposition attack getting further into our defence.’

Elated by the result, Arran Ladies enjoyed match teas in the Ormidale Pavilion where it was announced that Judith Ross had been nominated as dame of the game; a just reward for her speedy drives up the right wing, including one which sent her flying resulting in very skint knees and elbows!

Arran Ladies were due to face GHK Ladies 4s on Sunday, however the opposition conceded the match meaning Arran gained a 5-0 win to add to their weekend score sheet. These wins put Arran top of the West District 3rd Division, with a game in hand.

Arran Ladies would like to thank Pauline for giving up her match time to umpire once again, and they are exceeding grateful to David Johnston for managing the sideline substitutions and keeping them on track. The team would like to give a special shout out to all the supporters who turned up to cheer them on – your encouragement was incredibly important in this match and it really spurred all the players on.

Arran Ladies travel away to Dumfries today (Saturday), with a 1pm passback at the King George V astroturf.