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Spence heroics help Bann ramp up silverware bid

 

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Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup holders Banbridge Academy are the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of this year's competition. (stock photo)

Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup holders Banbridge Academy are the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of this year's competition. (stock photo)

©INPHO/Cathal Noonan

Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup holders Banbridge Academy are the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of this year's competition. (stock photo)

Belfast Telegraph Ulster Senior Cup holders Banbridge Academy are the first team to qualify for the semi-finals of this year's competition.

But it was a close run thing as they squeezed past Royal School Armagh 3-2 in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 1-1 draw at Havelock Park.

Bann goalkeeper Rebecca Spence was the heroine of the hour, coming up big both in regulation time and the ice hockey-style run-ins, as she made stunning saves in both, including one from the penalty spot during the 60 minutes.

The holders opened the scoring against the run of play after 20 minutes through a scrambled second-phase effort from Gemma Hassan, following up from Katie McDonald's penalty corner strike.

It didn't take Armagh too long to get back on level terms as Sophie Anderson fired home a rebound from their opening set-piece a minute later.

Armagh had a gilt-edged chance to take a crucial lead when they were awarded a penalty stroke with just over four minutes left but Spence made a superb stick save from Anderson's effort from the spot.

Armagh had another chance to take the tie in the dying moments but, once again, Spence came to the rescue with another superb block from a one-on-one with Anderson.

The Bann keeper again performed heroics in the shoot-out, making three crucial saves before Alex Gardiner showed nerves of steel to slot the winner and book her team a place in the last-four.

Belfast Telegraph Senior Cup remaining quarter-finals (Saturday): Omagh Academy v Ballymena Academy; Methodist College v Friends'; BRA v Belfast High

Belfast Telegraph