RANDALSTOWN coach Harry McNeill’s name is often prefixed with the word ‘happy’ such is his normal smiling demeanour but that adjective certainly wasn’t in his vocabulary after Saturday’s 2-1 Premier League defeat by Lisnagarvey at Comber Road.
On their own admission, ‘Town were below par despite having the balance of possession in the second half after an evenly contested opening 35 minutes.
The not-so-happy Harry was fit to be tied as he prowled up and down the touchline, occasionally removing his baseball hat and scratching his head in dismay.
Obviously he was powerless once the players stepped over the proverbial white line although he did his best to encourage his players to up their game at the break.
His whiteboard was used to deliver the message with phrases like: ‘first pass’ - a reference to maintaining possession after that and ‘you have to earn it’ - hinting at a degree of complacency amongst his players.
“Town were, after all, on the back of two wins in a row whereas ‘Garvey have just come up from Senior One and hadn’t a point to their name going into the game.
But you would have had difficulty judging which team was near the top and which was at the other end of the table certainly on the basis of the first half.
Even in the second although ‘Town had loads of possession there was little or no end product and ‘Garvey goalkeeper Caroline Reid will scarcely have a quieter afternoon.
“We were very poor in the first half in particular and we seem to have difficulty passing the ball on water based pitches like the one at Comber Road.” he said after the game.
There were contrasting emotions among the victorious Lisnagarvey players at the final whistle as several players held their arms aloft as if they’d won a Cup final.
“The work rate of the players out there was unbelievable and I think the girls are going out to celebrate tonight.” said ‘Garvey boss Simon Toole.
Within three minutes the home team were in front when Eimear Faller set up Laura Johnston whose first effort was blocked but she followed up to score from the rebound although she was grounded at the time.
‘Town responded to that set back when leading scorer Katherine McDowell had a shot deflected wide and then fired a penalty corner narrowly wide.
The equaliser arrived in the 15th minute when Sharon Graham’s tame effort looked to have taken a deflection before beating Reid for the ultimate in ‘soft’ goals but they all count.
‘Garvey scored what turned out to be the winner just before half time when Anne Christie blasted home a penalty corner.
The second half was something of a procession towards the ‘Garvey goal but, to be frank, ‘Town rarely looked like equalising.
Even when ‘Garvey were reduced to 10 players after Diane Robb was shown a yellow card for a technical offence, they looked safe at the back and the final whistle sounded shortly afterwards and Harry was still scratching his head.