Despite taking the lead, the North region were forced to come from behind to snatch a draw in the Schools’ Inter-Regional Cup 5th and 6th placed playoff. They had Julie Binnie to thank for two goals either side of South West strikes by Hannah Scott and Kathleen McGovern, with North the more creative in front of goal but unable to take their numerous chances against inspired South West goalkeeper Ciara Pollock.
Although the game was of little significance to the overall tournament, neither side wanted to finish with the wooden spoon and the lack of pressure gave both sides the freedom to be a bit more attacking. Something North embraced from the off with right winger Ruth Caney twice putting in dangers balls in the opening stages, one just a whisker in front of Binnie and another that Ellen Reid perhaps should have hit first time, instead she took a touch in the six yard box and the chance was gone.
Reid did better with a couple of chances shortly after, forcing two saves from Pollock, both of which the goalie did well to hold on to. It was the start of a long afternoon for the South West stopper.
With a host of chances already passing North by, their hearts would have been in their mouth when South West winger Kirsteen Laing skinned her marker and fired a shot narrowly wide with Emily Mutch trying to narrow the angle. It would have been typical of football for the better side to suddenly go behind out of nothing, but in fact it was North who took the lead not long after.
Out of nowhere the ball fell to Binnie about 25-yards out and she surprised everyone by taking the shot early and watched it settle in the back of the net. It was a deserved lead and North looked hungry for more.
When Ruth Caney’s cross was first pushed out by Pollock and then scrambled out of the box by her defence it looked like the damage was clear but centre-half Flora Bruce hit a dipping 20-yard effort that clipped the top of the crossbar. Pollock showed her worth with another brave block at the feet of Binnie and then watched a Caney shot whizz over the bar, as South West struggled to stay afloat in this game.
Their perseverance and luck paid off, however, when they grabbed the equaliser. Laing’s free-kick found Scott in acres of space in the box and she showed great awareness of the keeper’s position to deftly flick it over her head and knock it into the back of the net. It might not have been in the script but it was a quality piece of play.
North responded in their usual attacking manner with Lucy Grant doing well to dig the ball out from under her feet and unleash a dipping shot that Pollock had to tip over the bar with both hands. She made another comfortable save from Binnie before making the stop of the match from Reid. With the striker bearing down on goal, Pollock took a step to her left anticipating a shot across goal, but Reid went for the inside post and despite having already moved in the other direction, Pollock reacted brilliantly to adjust her feet and dive back across to push it wide for a corner.
From the resulting corner, Pollock was reduced to spectator as Jodie Strachan matched her fellow centre-half’s earlier effort by striking the top of the crossbar from the edge of the box, but, incredibly, Pollock’s goal was leading a charmed life and before the half was up her side even took the lead.
They’d been pinned back for 90% of the half but, having already taken one of their limited chances, it was clear South West were in a clinical mood. Central midfielder Abigail Eadie found McGovern who did well to hold off the challenge of Emma Rogers and fire home under the onrushing Mutch.