Portlaoise AFC 3 Newbridge Colts 1
Newly promoted Portlaoise AFC made an impressive start to their league campaign on Monday evening in Rossleighan Park.
The opponents were Newbridge Colts, who were last years Division 1 champions. Both teams started well with threatening passages of play.
It took 10 minutes for Portlaoise to gain the lead when a great ball from winger Caoimhe Kenna was taken cooly by striker Colleen Rickard who beat a defender and slotted it past the Colts keeper.
Portlaoise had the momentum now and with 15 minutes on the clock they won a corner which was neatly crossed in by Mo Nerney. Midfielder Emma Lawlor connected perfectly with a volley only for a Colts defender to handle it in the box resulting in a penalty for the home side. Nerney stepped up and converted it with ease.
Portlaoise looked the better side throughout the half with great communication and passing play between their back 3 and sweeper Averil Westman.
Colts didn’t give up and tried to open the Portlaoise defence but the back line of Hyland, Healy and Keane dealt with anything that came their way.
It was on the 36th minute that Portlaoise added their third after a great ball from Lawlor found striker Rickard who again ran at the Newbridge defence and launched it at goal.
The keeper did get a hand to it but her shot was too powerful to stop. The half finished 3-0 to the home side.
Newbridge Colts, trailing by three, did not lie down and continued to put pressure on Portlaoise as the second half got underway.
They were unlucky not to score early on as a terrific shot hit the cross bar and came back out to be cleared by the Portlaoise backs.
Portlaoise were relentless and kept the pressure on Newbridge as Mansfield and Kenna made their presence felt in midfield.
Newly introduced Amy Walsh and Aine O’Connor battled hard with the Colts defence and made nothing easy for them.
Colts never gave up and took numerous shots on goal but Portlaoise keeper Aimee Keane showed great hands with some terrific saves.
Newbridge Colts resilience was rewarded seconds from the final whistle when they managed to get a consolation goal after some good link up play between the midfielders and strikers.
Portlaoise will be delighted with the three points and will hope to build on this next weekend as they meet new entrants Torro United FC.
PORTLAOISE LADIES: Aimee Keane, Maria Keane, Ellen Healy, Niamh Hyland, Caoimhe Kenna, Emma Lawlor, Cathy Mansfield, Mo Nerney, Coleen Rickard, Aine O’Connor. Subs: Amy Walsh for Emma Lawlor, Emma Power for Aine O’Connor.