Raphoe ladies scored four second-half goals to secure top spot in their Ulster Senior Cup group.
Raphoe 5 Castle 1
Raphoe played their final group game of the Ulster Senior Cup, knowing that a win or a draw would guarantee them top spot in their group.
Raphoe started the game slowly and it took them until midway through the first half before they got settled into things.
Having had quieter games in her previous two matches, net minder Heather Humphrey, was called upon on a few occasions in the opening quarter of the game, to pull off a few fine saves to keep her team from going behind.
Coach Richard Tinney is known for changing things up and has no problem asking his players to play in various positions throughout games.
On his first big change up of the day, he moved Sabrina Barnett out of defence and in to the forward line. Barnett and Lisa Smyth worked well together, creating and giving space for their mid-field to carry the ball. Raphoe’s first goal came when Vicky Wray, Janice Nelson and Arlyne Kilpatrick worked the ball out of the Raphoe defence. Kilpatrick squared the ball to Leanne Patterson who used the space presented to her and drove towards the D.
An unmarked Barnett was waiting in front of the Castle keeper, and once the ball was fed through by Patterson, Barnett calmly slipped the ball through the keepers legs to give Raphoe lead.
Raphoe tried to finish off the half strongly, but due to some bad first touches, they were continuing to lose the ball and putting themselves under pressure after working so hard to gain possession.
Just as the first half was closing out, Raphoe conceded a short corner. Castle took advantage of the set piece, and with a strong strike from the top of the D, they got a well deserved goal, when their attacker slammed the ball into the left hand corner of the goals, taking the game to 1-1 at the half time break.
For Raphoe, half time came at a good time and allowed the ladies to regroup and refocus for the second half.
Raphoe came out the stronger of the two teams and stamped their authority on their home pitch.
The second goal of the game came with some great linking between Wendy Patterson and Leanne Patterson. Wendy put through a well placed ball to Leanne on the left side of the D, Leanne approached the advancing goalkeeper and with super precision and timing knocked the ball between the keepers legs, to give Raphoe the lead again.
This goal was what Raphoe needed as it seemed to spur on the girls and they started to play hockey as they had been in the previous cup games.
Arlyne Kilpatrick was strong in the backline and her interception of the ball as it came down the right, lead to Raphoe’s next goal. Kilpatrick won the ball on the right and played it forward to Leanne Patterson on the 25 yard line. Patterson saw Wendy Patterson making a run and quickly reversed the ball to her in the D. Wendy could have opted to try and take a shot on goal herself, but smartly picked out Barnett who was open on the back post, who rammed the ball off the back board to give her team a two goal cushion.
Trailing by 3-1 did not discourage Castle and they still managed on occasions to break through Raphoe, but Humphrey was on form and came out the winner on any one-on-ones that came her way.
Leanne and Lisa Patterson, showed the telepathic thinking between twins, as they connected superbly to set up Lisa Smyth for Raphoe’s fourth goal.
Smyth who along with Katy Love, had worked tirelessly upfront during the game to put a high press on the Castle hit outs. Smyth’s efforts paid off, when she received a reverse stick pass from Leanne on the right post and she nailed it into the Castle goal.
With the game now closing out, and bodies getting tired, Lyndsey Tinney and Barnett took over the role of centre midfield for a period.
Barnett read a mis-placed Castle pass in the centre of the field and sent the ball in to Katy Love in the middle of the circle. Love turned to try and get a shot off but the Castle keeper had gone down and managed to deflect the ball out towards Raphoe’s Emma Harpur.
Harpur leaned back and raised a shot towards the back post, where young Zara Tinney was on hand to expertly deflect the ball into the goal.
The first half may have started slow for the Raphoe ladies, but their composure in the second half, showed signs of the team that had been there in previous games.
Best for Raphoe was Leanne Patterson, and her individual dribbling skills and assists for a couple of the goals, earned her the Player of the Match award.
This result now leaves the Raphoe Ladies in the Semi-Final of the Ulster Senior Cup. Their opponents will be the runners-up of Group A (Coleraine/KV/North Down/Omagh/Priorians), with a fixture date yet to be confirmed.
Next Saturday, the Raphoe ladies will be in more cup action, but this time round it will be in the Irish Hockey Trophy against Rainey, who play in Ulster Premier Hockey (one league above Raphoe).
The game is at 1pm in Raphoe and all support will be greatly welcomed.
Raphoe: Heather Humphrey, Arlyne Kilpatrick, Sabrina Barnett (captain), Jasmine Tinney, Victoria Wray, Zara Tinney, Wendy Patterson, Lyndsey Tinney, Lisa Patterson, Lisa Smyth, Leanne Patterson, Katy Love, Janice Nelson, Julie Wilson, Rebecca Wauchope and Emma HarpurTags: