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Pegasus can still make the play-offs, insists Speers

By John Flack

Published 16/11/2016

Best to come: Alex Speers aims to guide Pegasus up the table
Best to come: Alex Speers aims to guide Pegasus up the table

Pegasus captain Alex Speers isn't too concerned that her team are in the bottom half of the EY Irish Hockey League table with a third of the campaign completed.

Last season's runners up made a similarly slow start a year ago but three of their last four games, all of which have been against higher-ranked opposition, have resulted in defeat.

However, Pegasus are just two points off a top-four berth going into the seventh round of matches at the weekend.

Speers knows that the Belfast team cannot afford too many more blips between now and Christmas if they are to climb back up the table and have a realistic chance of making the end of season play-offs.

On Saturday Pegasus travel to Deramore to face a Belfast Harlequins side who have been finding life in the top flight hard since earning promotion last season.

Quins have just three points after six matches and that was after they defeated basement side Pembroke.

Speers says it's a must-win game for Pegasus but expects a tough battle against their Belfast rivals, who will be hoping striker Claire Weir recovers from injury.

"So far this year, I believe the league is much closer with less of a difference in standard, with lots of matches coming down to fine margins and small details," said Speers.

"For example, last Saturday when we lost 3-2 to UCD, we had enough penalty corners in the final quarter to get something out of the game but unfortunately we couldn't convert."

Unlike Pegasus, Ards are in the top half of the table and on Saturday would seem to have a great chance of edging closer to a play-off place when they host Pembroke, bidding to make it four wins on the bounce.

The North Down side welcome back their first-choice goalkeeper, Ashley Orr, who missed last week's game due to work commitments.

Only a superior goal difference keeps the Ulster Elks above the relegation play-off spot and they are unlikely to add to their tally when they travel south to face unbeaten leaders Monkstown

In the Ulster Premier League there's a top of the table clash at the Joey Dunlop Centre, where Ballymoney take on champions Lurgan.

Before that, Portadown host Randalstown tonight with the Co Antrim team hoping to prevent a third consecutive defeat after losing to Queen's in the Ulster Shield semi-final and to Lurgan in the league.

This week’s fixtures

MEN’S SENIOR FIXTURES

SATURDAY: Ulster Premier League: Portadown v Civil Service (Stormont, 1pm); Campbellians v Kilkeel (Campbell College, 1pm); Raphoe v Newry Olympic (Royal & Prior, 2.30pm)

Senior One: Portrush v Bangor (1pm); Ballynahinch v Queen’s (1pm); South Antrim v Armagh (2.30pm); Cliftonville v Antrim (2.30pm)

WOMEN’S SENIOR FIXTURES

TONIGHT: Ulster Premier League: Portadown v Randalstown (Edenvilla, 8.15pm)

FRIDAY: Senior One: Ballymena v Knock (Ballymena Academy, 8.15pm)

SATURDAY: EY Irish Hockey League: Ards v Pembroke (Londonderry Park, 2.30pm); Belfast Harlequins v Pegasus (Deramore, 5pm); Monkstown v Ulster Elks (Dublin, 2.30pm); Loreto v Railway Union (1pm); Cork H v UCD (4pm)

Ulster Premier League: Ballymoney v Lurgan (Joey Dunlop LC, 2.30pm); Banbridge v Lisnagarvey (Havelock Park, 2.30pm); North Down v Raphoe (Comber LC, 2.30pm)

Senior One: Ballyclare v Rainey (Ballyclare HS, 2.30pm); Larne v Cookstown (Larne GS, 2.30pm); Mossley v CI Ladies (The Glade, 4pm)

Irish Hockey Trophy 1st round: NUIG v Armagh (Galway)

Irish Hockey Challenge 1st round: Kilkeel v Weston (Kilkeel HS, 2.30pm)

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