Ards retain Denman Ulster Shield after beating Pegasus

Ards goalkeeper Naomi McKnight
Ards goalkeeper Naomi McKnight

Ards retained the Denman Ulster Shield when they defeated Pegasus 2-1 on penalties after a 3-3 draw in the final at Comber Road as they claimed the famous trophy for the 11th time.

In a match of high drama, Pegasus looked dead and buried as they trailed 2-1 in normal time before netting a a last gasp equalizer to force extra time.

And then the roles were reversed when the Belfast side took the lead in extra time only for Ards to force the penalty shoot out when they equalized with the last action of the added 10 minutes.

Then Ards keeper Naomi McKnight became the heroine when she saved two penalties to win the trophy in the shoot out.

The Co Down side had beaten Pegasus 3-1 in last year’s decider to end a 50 year trophy drought.

Now they are on course for a double success as they are still well on contention for the Ulster Premier League title.

The two teams have had many a fine contest in recent seasons and Pegasus came back from 3-1 down to win last season’s league decider 5-3.

Next up it is another eagerly anticipated clash in the Premier League next month when Pegasus will be aiming to overturn the Shield final result.

It was hard to pick a favourite going into the final as Pegasus lost their unbeaten run only last week while Ards had also been showing excellent form after a sluggish start to the Ulster and all Ireland campaigns.

The first half was relatively unevenful until Suzanne Ferris put Pegasus in front in the 33rd minute when she deflected the ball home at the far past after Ards had failed to clear a left wing cross from Robyn Chambers.

Most of the drama was reserved for the remaining 47 minutes of the game, including extra time not to mention the shoot out.

In the 48th minute Ards drew level when Chloe Brown netted a rebound from a penalty corner after Emma Reid’s shot had been saved.

With 12 minutes left Reid made it 2-1 with a superb shot at another set piece, and at that point, it looked like it would be the winner.

But with time ticking away Pegasus forced a corner of their own and Vanessa Surgeoner blasted it home to force extra time.

With three minutes remaining of the additional 10, Taite Doherty converted a right wing cross at the far post but Tamara Macleod forced the shoot out when she converted a short corner at the far post and then Mcknight stole the show in the penalty decider.

Ards squad: Naomi McKnight; Tamara Macleod; Naomi Elliott; Emily Matchett; Jancie Vaughan; Sara Alexander; Hannah Coey; Katy Bennett; Becky Weir; Emma Reid; Kerri McDonald; Lynsey Mallon; Chloe Brown; Caroline Adams; Amy Benson; Zara Malseed.

Pegasus squad: Ayeisha McFerran; Hannah Grieve; Nadine Graham; Ruth Maguire; Taite Doherty; Natalie Pinkerton; Robyn Chambers; Rhianna Campbell; Amy Jones; Suzanne Ferris; Kate McConnell; Kerry Harvey; Alex Speers; Grace Irwin; Stephanie Thompson; Vanessa Surgeoner.

Umpires: Christine Reid and Lyn Morrow.