South Antrim 1-7 Belfast Harlequins (J.Brown)
Another bad day for the Lisburn men, this time at the hands of Belfast Harlequins. Quins were just 3 points ahead of South prior to the game, so it was expected to be an even game but it turned out to be anything but. South went down early on from a drag flick into the side netting and went a further goal down when a crashed ball in to the circle deflected off two sticks to nestle perfectly at an attackers stick for the simplest of goals. Heads dropped and the confidence left the young South side. With players shying from the ball, options were limited for passing, meaning turnovers in midfield. Once Quins stole the ball back, they broke at speed and were clinical in the circle, choosing to pass for simple tap ins instead of the riskier shots. The game was lost by half time when South were five down.
A stern talking to and South came out with some fight in the second half. They had a few decent chances to score, with Ward Phillips coming closest, just failing to get the telling touch on a John Semple cross. Unfortunately, the fight didn’t last long as a turnover in the centre of the park lead to an overload of attackers in South’s circle, Quins made no mistake in burying their sixth. James Brown scored a consolation goal for South when he netted from close range following a neat short corner. Quins got their seventh in the final minute via another drag flick. A dismal display from the young, inexperienced South side. They are going to have to learn quickly if they are to stay in the Premier League.
South Antrim 2nds 0-7 Lisnagarvey 2nds
The men’s 2nd XI suffered a heavy defeat to unbeaten league leader, Lisnagarvey 2nds. Despite the score line of 7-0, the effort and commitment of the players cannot be doubted. Even though South found themselves 1-0 down in the opening 5 minutes they played with no fear against youth internationals and Garvey 1sts squad players. Garvey had a lot of the possession during the first half and managed to score a further 3 goals. South also had their chances in the first half but failing to capitalise on it thanks to some terrific saves from the youth international goalkeeper. Determined not to go down without a fight, South came back into the second half strongly. South enjoyed a lot more of the possession. The midfield and the forwards linked up brilliantly to win a short corner for South. Garvey went down to a three man defence for the short corner as one of the Garvey players broke the line early. The goalkeeper again stood strong to deny South with a goal. After a great bit of build-up play South had the best chance of the game with a deflection effort from the veteran striker Neil Wilson but yet again the youth international goal keeper made a terrific save. During the last 10 minutes of the game Garvey managed to score another 3 goals.
South Antrim 3rds 1-2 Newry 3rds (G.Glass)
South Antrim 3rds travelled to Newry for the late hit off time of 4pm, made later when the game was delayed for 20mins to allow Newry 3rds to make up their numbers from players returning from an earlier away game. It started all South with early pressure telling as George Glass netted to put the Lisburn side a goal up. They failed to capitalise and add more goals before Newry’s bench warmed up and came on. From then on, the game ran away from South and they were on the back foot for long periods. It took to the second half for Newry’s dominance to pull through, the weakened South side tired and with little on the bench to call to for rest, mistakes started to happen. One such mistake allowed Newry to equalize and then they stole all the points when they drilled home a second.
South Antrim 4ths 3-2 Derg Valley 1sts (A.Collins, C.Ullmann, A.Hamilton Jnr)
South Antrim 4ths made the long travel to Omagh with an understrength team to play Derg Valley 1sts. With both sides cagy in the first half South played some nice hockey with no real chances and a brief moment of poor defending let Derg Valley take the lead in a fairly even first half. Some halftime adjustments allowed South to adapt and come out stronger. Soon they got their equaliser through some fine work by Archie Collins with a crisp hit from the right side of the circle leaving the goalkeeper with no chance. Buoyed by the equaliser South scored a brilliant team goal starting on the half way line with some exquisite passing leading to Archie Cousins playing a great pass to Alan Hamilton Junior who finished, as we all know he can, with a deft shot into the bottom corner. However, South sat back on their lead and allowed Derg Valley to get an equaliser of their own following a deflected shot that left Andrew Wallace wrong footed and with no chance. South knew the game was their’s for the taking and Cameron Ullmann drove into the circle and hit a strong, off balance shot that caught the goalkeeper off guard and allowed South to grab the late winner.
South Antrim 5ths 1-2 Belfast Harlequins 3rds (I.McElhinney)
Having beaten Harlequin’s 3rds earlier in the season South 5ths were looking to start the new year with a win. However, with a much changed Harlequins side taking the field and some of the regular 5ths playing for the 4ths, it was not too be. South started brightly and were a goal within five minutes. Having won a free in the Quin’s final quarter Gary McCormack switched the ball across to Maurice Bell. He fed the ball to Ian McElhinney whose reverse stock strike found the back of the net. Quin’s threatened with their centre midfielder dominating the play but young Sloan in nets kept the score 1-0 at half time. However, two minutes into the 2nd half, indecisiveness in the south defence let Quin’s through to equalise. Quin’s pressed and won a series of short corners but with Wallace turning a drag flick round the post and Sloan palming another away Quin’s couldn’t capitalise. However, another defensive error was South’s undoing, as Quin’s took the lead. With time running out young Ben Faulkner was through on goal but was taken down from behind by the Quin’s defender to win a short corner but couldn’t convert.
South Antrim Ladies 1-0 Cooke Ladies (S.Neill)
The girls were a bit miffed about the preview I wrote. I like to think of it as inspiration. They were determined to prove me wrong and they did just that, putting on a complete display of hockey with fine goalkeeping from Heather Neill, superb defending and ruthless attacking. Steph Neill scored South’s goal.
The South ladies started the match with many opportunities and some unlucky finishing. Cooke had their chances too, but Heather Neill made great saves and Allison Marsden kept the defence tight and organised, preventing Cooke from claiming any goals. There was great play from Morgan Muir and Charis Rogers hassling down the right line, constantly challenging Cooke’s defence. At half time both teams were yet to make it onto the score sheet. At the start of the second half both sides started strong but the South girls used their skill to their advantage and worked well between themselves before breaking through to pass to Steph Neill who found the back of the net giving the South girls a 1-0 lead. Cooke tried to fight back, but south kept strong and finished on a high. A 1-0 win and 3 vital points. Player of the match was Heather Neill. Thank you to Catherine Faulkner for umpiring.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 3-6 Banbridge Ladies 4ths (R.Young, E.Rennie, L.Boomer)
Scoring wasn’t the problem for South 2s in this game, keeping them out was. A day to forget as Ban put 6 past them.
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 0-5 Owls 2nds
The girls had their chances but couldn’t score. Still, learning experience, onwards and upwards!