Second-half performance pleases Nicholl

COLERAINE Women’s manager Alison Nicholl credited her side for their battling performance as they were beaten 2-0 by Ballymacash Rangers on Wednesday night…

Two first-half goals managed to seal the deal for the visitors as the Bannsiders suffered back-to-back defeats in the NIFWA Championship.

Nicholl alluded to the fact that her side were not used to the physicality offered by their opponents who scored twice inside the opening 45 minutes through Chloe Glover and Melissa Robinson.

“We had a full compliment of players apart from Storm Ballantyne who was unavailable,” she told Coleraine TV.

“Going into the match, we knew it was going to be a tough one despite Ballymacash having not collected any points from their first two games, so we knew they were going to come looking for points.

“The game started quite well for both sides, Ballymacash probably had more of the possession and they are a more physical side than us and some of the younger members of our squad were a bit overawed by that.

“We had Anna Bradley starting in goals and she is only 15-years-old but she bravely stepped up for her debut as we still have Cerys Sharkey out injured for twelve weeks.

“Anna started really well, the back four dealt with any attacks quite ably in the first ten or fifteen minutes and we didn’t create very much in an attacking sense.

“Around twenty minutes in, Ballymacash attacked down the left-hand side and a good cross from their winger was converted with a good finish which left Anna with no chance.

“To be fair to the girls, they didn’t let their heads drop and got back into the game by having some strong spells of possession, particularly in the wide areas and getting forward.

“We didn’t manage to get any meaningful efforts on goal nor from a couple of set pieces.

“Ten minutes later, Ballymacash scored their second goal from the edge of the box and their movement between midfielders and forwards was excellent as they were rotating and one of their central midfielders let fly from the edge of the box.”

Despite losing the contest to a much more experienced side, boss Nicholl was pleased with her side’s response after the break as they managed to keep going in a bid to get back into the game.

“We soaked up some more pressure, we had a good team talk at half-time and came back out with a much better second-half performance,” she added.

“We got more touches of the ball, got more into the game and a bit more physical, with Rachel Madden having some joy on the left-hand side and Cerys Sharkey holding the ball up front and linking the play.

“We had no real chances but it was a much improved second-half performance with more possession and it was a 0-0 half.

“The positives we have to take is that we had good performances across the pitch, if we could get a full compliment of players and our goalkeeper back it would help, but I must say Anna done brilliantly to step up between the sticks.”

It is a trip to Larne Women next for Coleraine and Nicholl remarked that she may be without several faces due to exam preparations.

“As we have a young team, we are struggling with availability as several girls are studying for their exams,” she continued.

“We have to go to Larne and we know it’s going to be very, very tough as they’ve taken points from all their games so far this season.

“We have to keep moving forward, we are competing despite narrow defeats and we will only get better.

“We had a 4-5-1 formation on Wednesday night which worked quite well defensively but we need to get support up to the striker far quicker, but this is something we can work on at the training pitch.”