Cup glory for reds and blues in thrilling inter-county
An entertaining, high tempo and hard-fought encounter was played out in Brae as the Shetland ladies hockey team faced rivals Orkney in this year’s senior inter-county.
The reds ran out 3-1 victors but Shetland battled hard and played with plenty of heart and desire.
Afterwards in the mixed game it was Shetland who lifted the trophy, winning 3-1.
In the first clash both sides looked hungry to take the lead and Shetland started brightly with some neat passing in midfield.
Orkney were applying the pressure and were awarded a short corner in the early stages, but Spurs player Rhiannon Inkster bravely blocked a stinging Orkney shot, which cracked against her knee.
Inkster was visibly hurt but was luckily able to get to her feet and gingerly leave the field.
Vicky Anderson was brought on in her place.
Another Orkney short corner followed as a result, but the effort went wide of goalkeeper Toni Sidgwick’s goal.
Shetland hit back through captain Kristan Robertson who was driving forward to find an opening.
Orkney were getting some joy down the right hand side through Inga Kemp, and Aimee Drever was troubling the back line.
Shetland came close on 12 minutes when Stacey Laurenson hit a thumping shot goalwards from a short corner, only to be saved by the keeper and knocked over the bar.
The blues had the bit between their teeth and continued to pin Orkney back in their own half with a series of short corners, however the blues were unable to take the lead.
Orkney replied strongly, and Sidgwick was called into action on several occasions, saving at her feet and making a fine save low to her right to avert the danger as half-time drew closer.
Shetland pushed all their outfield players forward for a short corner just before the break but the Orcadians stood strong.
The reds were straight out of the traps in the second half and asking questions of the Shetland rearguard.
Victoria Duthie and Robertson were working well together down the right wing as the game began to open up.
On 45 minutes Robertson pulled a shot wide after she picked up a clearance from Sidgwick.
Neither team was sitting back and Sidgwick had to rush out of her goal moments later to block an Orkney shot.
Whalsay player Karis Irvine also came close connecting with a menacing cross from Laurenson.
But it was Orkney who took the lead just before the hour mark with a shot at the edge of the circle from a short corner.
But Shetland continued to fight.
Laurenson’s tricky stick work and neat turns had been a thorn in Orkney’s side and it was a lovely move from the Shetland number 11 and Irvine which brought things level.
Irvine played a measured through ball to Laurenson, waiting patiently for a gap to appear to feed her teammate.
Laurenson turned sharply and hooked a brilliant low drive past the keeper.
It was a well-deserved equaliser for the battling blues, but within minutes Orkney made it 2-1 with a low shot to Sidgwick’s right.
Victoria Duthie was charging upfield to help push for another but just before the death Orkney made it three one with a powerful shot blasted past Sidgwick at close range.
Coach Jill Hibbert was very happy with the team’s performance and said everyone played well.
“It was a great game, it really was,” she said.
“It felt like we had about six penalty corners in the first half and we had some cracking shots on goal through the penalty corners.
“I think the momentum of the game was maintained right the way through the game and I think that made it a really exciting game for the spectators and the players as well.”
Hibbert praised the girls for Shetland’s goal, which she said was the best of the match.
Shetland last beat Orkney in the inter-county in 2001, though Hibbert said the gap between the teams is smaller, thanks to Shetland playing games south including competing in the Scottish District Cup.
Meanwhile Shetland won 3-1 in the mixed inter-county competition.
First-half goals from Shetland’s captain Joe Bruce and Terry Tipler gave the home team a comfortable lead.
Shetland’s Reece Thorne scored a tremendous solo effort to give Shetland a 3-0 in the second half.
Orkney’s Jame Iredale scored a consolation goal for the visitors.
The Joan Nicolson trophy was presented by Joan Nicolson’s daughter Joan Sharp and her great grandson Lewie Moncrieff.
• More in Friday’s Shetland Times