THERE was to be no giant-killing in the NIWFA Championship Cup last Wednesday as Bangor FC Ladies exited the competition with defeat to Ballyclare Comrades at Clandeboye Park.
With the sides having already faced off in league action, the Seasiders inspired confidence in that first clash when, after the Co Antrim travellers raced into a two-goal advantage early in proceedings, they put on a tremendous show of fighting spirit to claw the scoreline back even at 2-2 by the interval.
But in this meet, the damage was done by that same point, with the Comrades four unanswered goals to the good at half-time.
A salvo between the seventh and 26th minutes where their clinical edge was on peak display, they struck the iron while it was hot and laid down their gauntlet in emphatic fashion.
And with the visitors adding another to their tally shortly before the end, it definitively spelt out a quarter-final elimination for a Bangor team that was hampered by an injury-enforced lack of firepower up top.
With sharp-shooter Amber Dempster and in-form Olivia Brown both absent, Ethan Boylan’s preferred 4-4-2 set-up struggled to ask questions of their Dixon Park adversaries in the first period, although tactical tweaks following the break did deliver some belief for the Yellows supremo.
Robyn McFadden’s introduction as the leading striker, with support from Toni Stewart and Janine Jess to the wings, caused the Ballyclare backline more concern as Bangor repeatedly claimed back possession higher up the pitch.
A sterling second-half performance from goalkeeper Giulia McLaughlin helped to keep the margin at four – she was in the right place at the right time to pull off a swathe of stunning stops – while dependable centre-back pairing Lucy Hollies and captain Sarah McKillen were solid as a spine in front.
It would be the current second-place occupiers in the women’s second-tier who enjoyed the last laugh, though.
A lightning counter from one end of the pitch to the other fed the ball perfectly in stride for the onrushing Comrades striker, who placed incisively beyond McLaughlin and broke her post-interval resistance in the first minute of additional time.
With that, the traditional red-and-white-coloured outfit donning their changed away strip for this encounter booked their semi-final ticket.
For the home team, their next priority lies in the Electric Ireland Women’s Challenge Cup this weekend, when Boylan will send his refreshed charges into battle against Lisburn Distillery. A rare Sunday outing at Clandeboye Park, that first round affair will kick off at 2.30pm as the players try to advance on another front.