South Antrim 2- 4 Portadown (L.Marshall, A.Glass)
Saturday saw South Antrim 1st XI travel to Edenvilla to take on a Portadown side that were promoted to the Premier League alongside them last season. Although finishing behind the Lisburn side in last season’s Senior 1 division, it is Portadown who have made the stronger start to their debut season in the premier league, lying mid-table. South Antrim on the other hand have struggled to replicate their title winning form from last season and, despite suffering some heavy defeats in recent weeks, saw this as an opportunity to return to form.
The opening stages of the match were perhaps reflective of many previous encounters between the two sides, with each teams’ attacking nature resulting in a very open game of hockey. However, South found themselves 2-0 down mid-way through the half with 2 quick-fire goals from Portadown. The scoring was opened through a well worked move along the baseline, and within minutes Portadown had doubled their lead with a controversial tap-in at the back post following a pass that was deemed to be still in play when the cross was made despite South’s appeals. Despite the disappointing nature of the goals conceded, South Antrim, having already overturned a 2 goal deficit in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, a match which finished 2-2, remained confident of a result. The Lisburn side began to grown more into the match and, after a series of near chances, were finally rewarded. Good work from Darren Hutchinson and James Brown resulted in a short corner being awarded to South, which was duly converted by Adam Glass, with a powerful hit into the bottom corner of the goal. South Antrim were arguably the better side for the remainder of the first half, however could not add to the score and therefore found themselves 2-1 down at half time.
The start of the second half saw Portadown bounce back strongly, applying more and more pressure to the South Antrim defence. Despite this increased pressure, the South Antrim defence continued to cope with the threat of the Portadown forwards, with the youthful central defensive pairing of Adam Marshall and Jack Moore flourishing. With the game becoming even more stretched, the Lisburn side deservedly found themselves back on level terms at the mid-way stage of the half. A well worked short corner routine resulted in a diving back post deflection from Lee Marshall, a rare goal for the South Antrim captain.
As the game began to draw towards its conclusion, both sides continued to create chances, although neither were able to capitalize on some promising opportunities. However, with minutes left in the game South Antrim hearts were broken as a quick counter attack resulted in a Portadown forward deflecting home what proved to be a vital goal in this tie. With the score at 3-2, South Antrim threw everything they had at Portadown, and were unfortunate not to equalise once more with a Chris Henry deflection narrowly missing the bottom corner. With seconds left in the match Portadown were awarded a penalty stroke, following a foul from ‘keeper Mark Hutchinson, and made no mistake in converting, further increasing their lead. The final whistle followed shortly afterwards, with the match finishing ta 4-2.
South Antrim may feel that they were perhaps deserving of at least 1 point from this game, however despite this bitter disappointment, they can take pride from their improved performance this weekend and continue to strive towards reproducing last season’s title winning form in the remaining fixtures of this season.
South Antrim 2nds 5-2 Annadale 2nds (D.Hutchinson x2, N.Wilson, A.Farrell, N.Gamble)
This week South Antrim 2nds faced a tough game against Annadale 2nds who they had played twice already this season, unfortunately being narrowly defeated in both games. But the South side where determined to put the past few weeks behind them and started to press the Dale defence right from the first whistle. South soon added a goal to assert their dominance with some lovely interchange of play between Jack Redpath and Nathan Gamble. The later played the killer pass to the top of the D to find Andrew Farrell and with slammed home a reverse into the top corner. This set up a flurry of goals for South in the next 10 minutes Darren Hutchinson added a second squeezing in a shot from a tight angle after rolling a defender. Shortly after Gamble converted a short corner with a powerful drag flick over the keeper outstretched leg. To send the South men four up, Darren Hutchinson won a plenty stroke and converted it nicely himself into the side netting. South kept their control of the game by restricting Dale to some half chances witch didn’t trouble Ian Glass in nets. Annadale’s best chance of the half came in the last few minutes with a short corner but with some great goal line defending by Matt Frazer he managed to turn the ball around the post. The second half started similar to the first with the South men controlling the majority of the play but as time went on Dale started to take more risks going forwards but with a solid defence this was to no avail. With pushing so high it was enviable that the South forwards would counter attack. Nathan Gamble played a pass through to Neil Wilson who was taken out by the keeper that won him a plenty stroke which he stepped up to take himself, luckily the ball made it through the keepers legs to make it 5-0. With ten minutes to go, Dale finally got a goal with a scrappy bundle inches from the goal line and shortly after converted a short corner. This was a fantastic performance from the South team, a great benchmark to set out for future game against top opposition.
South Antrim 3rds 4-0 Cookstown 5ths (N.Alister, G.Glass, C.McCandless x2)
South Antrim travelled to Cookstown with the aim if getting back to winning ways. After an evenly contested opening 10 minutes, Callum McCandless changed the game when he ran from his own half to put South Antrim 1-0 up. Callum made sure south went into half time with a two goal cushion by tapping in the second goal from his more usual position at back post. South Antrim controlled the second half and had a multitude of chances to increase their lead. George Glass tricked the keeper with a fake hit before pushing home to score the third. Nathan Alistar bamboozled the Cookstown defence with a quick turn and reverse into the bottom corner to complete the rout and ensure South Antrim out pressure on league leaders Annadale.
South Antrim 4ths 4-1 Derg Valley (S.Glenn, A.Hamilton Jnr, A.Collins)
South Antrim 4ths have been in good form recently and were keen to keep this roll of wins going, knew they had a tough game ahead of them today. South wasted no time in winning the first short corner of the game within minutes. A well-executed short corner routine from Alan Smith, set up Stuart Glenn for an open shot to the bottom corner. Derg Valley pushed hard to level the score, and in doing so paid the price of a quick counter attack from the South boys. A rampaging run from Archie Collins into the circle finishing with a superb strike made it 2-0 before half time. The second half started just as the first ended, with Junior Hamilton sending the keeper the wrong way, before rocketing a reverse high into the back of the net for a 3-0 lead. Captain Graeme Alister picked up a nasty injury, and with his departure Derg Valley capitalised on the moment, scoring their first of the game, with a well struck shot from the top of the circle. In the dying moments Junior Hamilton broke through Derg Valley’s defence and slotted home his second of the game, finishing the game 4-1.
South Antrim 5ths 3-4 Lisnagarvey 6ths (B.Faulkner x2, N.Donald)
South 5ths hosted Lisnagarvey 6ths on Saturday looking to improve on recent performances in the league. South dominated the early rthe exchanges and won a series of short corners but couldn’t convert any of them. However despite South’s dominance Garvey scored on the counter against the run of play. South continued to press and Ben Faulkner found Nahtan Donald in the circle who calmly scored. The first half finished 1-1. South started the 2nd half slowly and Garvey quickly went 3-1 up again on the counterattack. The young South team kept their heads up with Nick Mills and Maurice Bell dominating in midfield. Andrew Wallace in nets denied Garvey from numerous short corners. With Pyper and Donald causing problems up front it was again Faulkner causing problems. He dribbled his way into the circle to get South’s second. Five minutes later he did again dribbling past the Garvey defender to get his second and level the scores. South pushed for the winner and with five minutes remaining Pyper broke free and was one on one with the keeper but his finish let him down. Garvey attacked late on and although the initial shot was saved, the follow up was flicked goalwards, settling this tie in the visitor’s favour.
South Antrim Ladies 0-0 Instonians Ladies
In game the girls reckon they could have won given a bit more luck, they can be proud of a point against the league leaders. Actually they are the league winners now as a point here secured their title, big shout out to Shane Geary a South member, who coaches Inst ladies, Congratulations. Our girls can be happy with how they played and hope to carry it on to their few remaining games.
The Ladies started off well moving the ball slickly across the back, through to mid field and ultimately finding either Steph Neill or Charis Rodgers who confidently moved the ball into the circle winning corners for the home team. Unfortunately the oppositions defence prevented the ladies from putting the ball into the net. Likewise, at the other end of the pitch, the South defence kept a clean sheet, only giving away one penalty corner in which the resulting corner shot was blocked by Elaine Aiken, who, along with Allison Marsden anticipated the Instonians routine.
With a scoreless draw at half time, the ladies knew the 3 points they needed to be contenters for the play off place were still within reach, however the adverse weather conditions obviously dampened both teams spirits and although there were opportunities, with Steph Neill making an individual run after a through ball from defender Sarah Neill and Alannah Richardson narrowly missing the crossbar, neither team could get themselves off the mark.
Once again, the South defence prevented Instonians from entering the circle with Heather Neill travelling outwards towards the edge of the circle to successfully clear a loose ball before the opposition could take advantage. Allison Marsden (Player of the match) and Heather Neill maintained control in the circle ensuring that the South girls marked their players tightly thus preventing any unnecessary mistakes.
As the final whistle blew, the ladies had to content themselves with a 0-0 draw and 1 more point to add to their tally on the league table. Both teams will be meeting again this Friday, at Shaws Bridge, in the first match of the Senior 4 Cup.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 0-1 Victorians Ladies 2nds
This cup thriller went to extra time after the first 70 minutes played out a 0-0 tie. A very even contest than was settled in sloppy fashion with a goal mouth scramble ending with a Victorians player bundling the ball barely over the line. This Victorians team is several leagues higher than our girls so credit to them!
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 3-0 Owls Ladies 2nds (A.Wright x2, L.McConnell)
The Ladies 3rds advance to the next round of the Minor Plate after the second win in their short history. Goals from Amy Wright either side of a close range Laura McConnell tap in secure a fantastic win for Carol Redpath’s girls.