MATCH BALL FOR MAXWELL AS REDS HIT SIX
Danielle Maxwell bagged a hat-trick as Cliftonville Ladies hit Ballymena United Women for six at the Showgrounds.
The Reds dominated possession throughout the game and were frustrated in the opening period, despite going close when a Louise McDaniel shot hit the bar.
Toni-Leigh Finnegan eventually broke the deadlock on 15 minutes, picking up on the ball outside of the box and sending her long-range effort into the back of the next.
Two minutes later, it was déjà vu – Ballymena not learning their lesson and giving Finnegan all the time and space she needed to again score from outside of the box with a well-placed strike.
Working hard to regroup, United conceded a third in six minutes when Louise McDaniel lifted a lovely pass over the defensive line straight into the path of an oncoming Maxwell who slotted home.
The Reds began to have more joy down left and a brilliant interchange between Maxwell and Hannah Doherty deservedly resulted in a fourth.
It was a similar story for the fifth goal on the cusp of half time, with more intricate play down the left resulting in Maxwell finding the next and securing her hattrick.
In the second half, a change in formation seemed to give Ballymena some more solidity and they frustrated the visitors, who were also guilty of wasting a number of excellent chances.
The only goal of the second half came in the 85th minute when Claire Shaw took it on herself, again down the left side, her burst through the box, clever footwork and ferocious shot too much for the defenders and the keeper to handle.
Lucy Winton in the Ballymena goal pulled off a number of great saves to keep the score down and ensure the game finished with Cliftonville only six goals to the good.
Ballymena United Women: Winton, Millar, Bamford, McDowell, S. Livingstone, McClure, E. Livingstone, McKendry, Winter, Firth, Manson subs Rainey, Kirgan, Mitchell, McDowell, Quinn
Cliftonville Ladies: Bradley, Burrows, Doherty, Morgan, Finnegan, Maxwell, McDaniel, C. McGuinness, Carleton, Markey, O. McGuinness subs Reilly, Callaghan, Irvine, Anderson, Shaw, Magee