Western Blue Sox: 2
Bellahouston, 17th April 2010
The 2nd XI?s reserve league campaign concluded with a narrow loss to runaway champions Western Blue Sox. Despite ultimately losing 2-1, this was Kelburne best show against these opponents having lost both previous fixtures 4-0.
With Olympic medallist Wendy Justice and other fading luminaries amongst Western?s ranks, Kelburne faced an onslaught from the outset. Judith Crawford?s excellent form this season continued with a series of vital saves. It was credit to Kelburne?s steadfast defending that, frustrated with the lack of breakthrough, Justice retreated from central midfield to sweeper after quarter of an hour. With a bit of breathing space Kelburne could launch their own attacks: a mixture of quick breaks by the diminutive blond forward line of Amy Hyslop, Amanda Maxwell and Emma Barlow (left) and Emma Ryan doggedly drawing fouls up the right wing.
In a fiercely competitive contest Kelburne thoroughly deserved to reach half time on even terms. Though Hyslop could have given Kelburne the lead when Barlow?s slick pass put her in the clear at the top of the D but her screaming strike went just wide of the post.
At half time Ryan was lost to work and Kelburne had to soldier the old fashioned way: with just eleven (against twelve). With Frances McKeown replacing Ryan at right-back, she was no longer at left midfield to keep Western?s powerful Lorna Dobbie in check and the visitors started to make Kelburne suffer for this.
Kelburne were not without their own opportunities in this period, both Barlow and Hyslop coming close. Christine McCrimmon nearly succeeded with a reverse stick flick from close range.
Western?s burgeoning dominance (plus some partial decision making at that end) won them several penalty corners but they struggled to convert their elaborate routines. Kelburne were lucky to be given a further let off midway through the half when Western pounced on a careless hit out and put away the rebound from Crawford?s initial save. Only after consultation with her colleague was the umpire convinced that the Blue Sox striker had kicked the ball into the goal.
Western did succeed in taking the lead moments later when a quick self-pass move caught the Kelburne defence flat and indecisive in the ensuing scramble.
Kelburne fought back with typical gusto. McCrimmon had a golden chance to equalise but hesitated momentarily and was blocked by one Western?s veteran defenders. Western took the chance to double their lead as another questionable corner was awarded when Steph Kirkland deflected the ball off the baseline. McLauchlan stopped the first shot but Blue Sox stuck away the rebound.
In the dying minutes a Kelburne comeback looked possible when McCrimmon won a short corner and Frances McKeown?s sweetly struck shot beat both Justice and the keeper to gave the Paisley side a lifeline.
However, Western?s umpire Ellen Murray stepped in at this stage to ease the pressure on the Blue Sox by reducing Kelburne to ten men for the remainder of the game.
With moments left, Kelburne were awarded another PC but McKeown?s effort shot was well saved.
It was unfortunate the second eleven could not prise a point from the champions as reward for a gutsy performance in what was a high paced, high quality game in the Reserve League.