A seizure to Shankill Predators number 8 Julie-Ann McCann after 70 min signalled the end of a entertaining game which had seen Cliftonville ladies 3-0 at by half time.
The referee temporarily stopped the game when the midfielder went down with no one anywhere near her. Her team mates immediately shouted for help, and an ambulance was called. It took 15 min for the ambulance to arrive, and thankfully during this time Julie-Ann started to come round, however the ambulance crew still wanted to take her in just to be sure, and by the time they had got her onto a stretcher and into the ambulance over 20 min had passed, at which point the referee consulted with both managers and sensibly blew the game up.
The game itself was quite a good spectacle. It started quickly, with plenty of end to end football, but there were only one or two chances of note. The first goal came in an unexpected fashion, as Cliftonville won a free kick just inside the opposition half, around 45 yards out. Clitonvilles number 8, Rachael Cromie, took command and confidently hit an effort at the net. It was down the middle and on target, but was hit well, just under the bar. Goalkeeper Anna Daly managed to get a hand to it, but was unable to keep it out.
Cliftonville were able to build up play and put their opponents under some pressure, and they gave away a few foul, which looked like the reds best chance of scoring another. This proved to be true when they won a free kick around 25 yards out on the right had side, which was curled home brilliantly by the left boot of Northern Ireland international midfielder Marissa Callaghan after 18 minutes.
The Predators recovered well after this and were able to create a few chances themselves, and forced one or two saves from Cliftonville goalkeeper and captain Tiarna McKenna. They also managed to regain some composure at the back with centre back Billie Simpson leading by example, blocking and heading away the majority of Cliftonvilles attacks and tried to start attacks herself by running out from the back .
However, Cliftonville defended well throughout the match, and waited for another chance to come their way, which it did after 39 minutes, when some good play saw number 11 Niamh Adams get through and hit a shot on goal. A desperate lunge from a Predators defender managed to get a nick on the goal bound ball, but couldn't keep it out, and Cliftonville took a 3-0 lead into half time.
The second half seen Shankill Predators perform much better in defence and restrict Cliftonville to only one speculative effort, when Joanne McCalthy cut inside her marker from 30 yards and hit a dipping shot towards the far corner, which went just over bar.
The final whistle was then blown when Julie-Ann McCann required hospital treatment. As 70 minutes had been played, the 3-0 results to Cliftonville stands, and they make it two wins from two, after their 1-0 victory against Ballymena in their opening fixture of the season. These wins came either side of a penalty shootout victory over Crusaders Strikers in the county Antrim Shield. They have also yet to concede a league goal, a stat that will be tested in their next fixture, a league game away to Crusaders, who will be seeking revenge for their cup exit. Shankill Predators are away to Linfield ladies, with both games kicking off at 19:00.
Report and photo by Ben Hanna