Saturday’s scoreless Premier League draw between Belfast Harlequins and the Ulster Elks won’t live long in the memory as it was pretty turgid stuff but Deramore coach Nick Johnston wasn’t complaining.
It could turn out to be a crucial point for the home team, who have now clocked up seven from their last three games.
That is four more than either of the relegated sides last season, namely Portadown and Victorians, picked up in the entire campaign.
Harlequins have now a seven point cushion over the bottom side, Armagh, and they are four better off than Queens who lie in the penultimate place.
However for Johnston’s opposite number, Ricky Lee, it was more a case of “glass half empty” than “half full”.
The Ulster Elks now have the same number of points as Saturday’s opponents and the Jordanstown side have the unwelcome tag of being draw specialists.
Saturday’s stalemate was their fourth in five starts and Lee was not a particularly happy man at the final whistle.
“We have got to start converting our penalty corners and we squandered another eight today” he explained.
“We have to take our chances and win games that we are dominating”
The Elks expectations are somewhat higher than those of Harlequins as they will be aiming for a top four place at worst come the end of the season.
Survival, in contrast, will be the simple objective for any newly promoted team in the top flight and that includes Harlequins.
“Any points that we pick up will be very welcome but I think there are lots of teams in this league capable of taking points of each other” Harlequins coach Johnston said.
“It took us a few games to get ourselves up to speed but we have been happy with our recent results.”
“It has been a learning experience for both of us and that includes myself as I have never coached at this level before”
Chances were at a premium in Saturday’s game with most of the action confined to the middle of the pitch.
Harlequins had an early opportunity in the sixth minute when the impressive Jenna Watt set up Amy Geddes but her effort was deflected wide of the target.
Four minutes later Laura McAlpine had a chance at the other end but she failed to connect with the ball when well placed.
The Elks won two penalty corners in quick succession at the end of the first quarter but the first was well defended and Danielle Wilson’s shot from the second went narrowly wide.
In the twenty sixth minute Lucy Geddes stole the ball from a defender but Elks goal keeper Rebecca Davidson saved her first effort and she took the rebound wide. Toward the end of the first half Ruth Millar’s shot was saved by the keeper and then, at the other end, Lyndsay Neish failed to find the target after good work by Paula Lee.
There was a flurry of goal mouth activity at the start of the second half with Kirstie Lammey and Gemma Frazer going close for the Elks and Lucy Geddes sending the ball inches wide for ‘Quins.
But the remainder of the game produced very few genuine chances and both sides had to settle for a draw leaving Harlequins coach Johnston happier than his opposite number.