Swifts defeat Seasiders to take pole position

NIWFA Championship

St James’ Swifts Ladies 4

Bangor FC Ladies 2

By Lewis Bennett

IT PROVED to be a disappointing night at the office for Bangor FC Ladies last Wednesday night after going down 4-2 to St James’ Swifts in a top-of-the-table NIWFA Championship clash.

A goal-filled first half at Whiterock Leisure Centre was most telling, with the hosts taking the lead just seven minutes into the game through Chloe Tully, but Seasiders captain Sarah Crooks replied with her first goal of the season only four minutes later to equalise.

Even then, parity only lasted three further minutes when Tully bagged her second of the game to restore St James’ lead and just after the half-hour, Chloe Doak notched up the west Belfast side’s third that made the mountain all the harder to climb for Chris Dougan’s team.

The scoreline reading 3-1 at the interval, the second half got off to the worst possible start for Bangor as Roise Thompson added number four for the home team less than a minute after the restart. And although Amber Dempster emulated Crooks in scoring against her former side on 50 minutes, this wasn’t to spark a dramatic revival as the hosts bagged all three points to move onto the summit and end the visitors’ three-game winning streak.

Centre-back Crooks, who scored her first goal for the club having joined in the summer of 2023, singled out full-back Megan Gore for praise but also admitted there was a frustration at both mistakes leading to the goals and Bangor not being clinical in positions where they could have done more damage.

“A bad day at the office; we started slow and allowed them to come at us. We came back into it in the second half and were pushing for the goals, but it wasn’t to be,” said the 26-year-old Northern Ireland Futsal international.

“The girls showed heart to keep going to the final whistle and both goals were a glimpse of what we can do. We had a good few chances with hitting the crossbar and narrow misses, but sometimes luck isn’t on your side.

“We’re so used to playing out from the back, but due to the size of the pitch, we found out quickly that we were unable to use that approach and we had to play more direct,” she continued.

“I think big credit has to go to Megan, who was busting herself in left-back, and she made some great forward runs trying to create opportunities for us.

“I do think we gifted them some goals, which is disappointing from our point of view that we got punished for our own mistakes, and it’ll be a lot of work in training to tidy up and learn from those mistakes and try to be more like our usual selves for the next game.

“We have such a good squad of players and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season brings.”