Linfield drew 1-1 with Sion Swifts at Melvin sports complex in Strabane in the Danske Bank NIFL Premiership last night.
This game was a tightly contested, close battle between two evenly matched teams who both gave their all - an excellent advert for the Danske Bank NIFL Premiership.
It was a game of few clear cut chances, with lots at stake and both teams prepared to put bodies on the line for the cause in what was an intriguing and absorbing contest.
Sion are a very strong and well organised team and they were keen to cut the deficit at the top of the league table.
Linfield went into this game missing several key regulars - injured Casey Howe and the unavailable Lauren Perry, Megan Bell, Abbie Magee and Kelsie Burrows.
Linfield lined up as follows
1 - Anna McCleary
18 - Rebecca McKenna
25 - Naomi Donnan
5 - Ashley Hutton
3 - Louise McFrederick
11 - Kirsty McGuinness
97 - Chloe McCarron
16 - Clare Timoney
22 - Louise McDaniel
9 - Rebecca Bassett
26 - Caitlin McGuinness
2 - Mia Fitzsimmons
7 - Genna Brown
14 - Saskia Love
19 - Leah McCabe
23 - Kirsty Cameron
Sion took the lead in the 74th minute when their number 8, Ciara Grant picked up a loose ball and fired into the roof of the net from the edge of the area.
However, straight from the resultant kick off Linfield provided the perfect response when Kirsty McGuinness pounced on rare hesitancy in the home defence to divert the ball into an unguarded net from a wide left position.
The remainder of the game was a nervy affair, with Sion pressing and having loud claims for a penalty waved away by the referee in front of a good sized home and travelling support.
Rebecca Bassett came close to clinching all 3 points for Linfield when she picked up a loose ball but her shot from the edge of the box went agonisingly inches the wrong side of the post, with the keeper out of position.
Linfield held firm in the face of sustained pressure from the strong home team and while there were 11 heroines in blue, big games need big players and Linfield were led superbly by inspirational stars Kirsty McGuinness and Ashley Hutton. Special mention must be given to new keeper Anna McCleary who withstood several aerial assaults, as the home team went in search of a winner. Anna had only played a few minutes at Derry City the week previously, as well as Monday’s Irish Cup tie at Downpatrick but she turned in a very assured performance in goal.
A gripping battle, high in intensity and tempo.
Final score - Sion 1 Linfield 1
Player of the Match - Kirsty McGuinness
A gutsy display, full of never say die pride, to earn a hard earned but deserved point.
Despite conceding the first League goal and dropping the first League points, Linfield remain top of the table 3 points ahead of Glentoran and 5 ahead of Sion.
Linfield are next in action on June 26 against Crusaders at New Midgley Park.