South Antrim 3-4 Kilkeel (A.Glass, C.Henry x2)
Last weekend saw South Antrim’s first fixture in the Ulster Premier League after winning promotion last year from Senior 1. The Lisburn side played Kilkeel, an established mid-table side with more experience than themselves. The men in red and black were undaunted and started well, absorbing the expected pressure with ease and mounting counter attacks by use of the ariel ball. One of these balls played in Paul Maguire, who darted in behind the defence and won a short corner as the defender was deemed to have deliberately played the ball over the back line. South scored the resulting set piece with an Adam Glass drag flick. South Antrim were under pressure but rarely in danger over the next 20 minutes. Unfortunately Kilkeel won their own short corner after a well played advantage, which they duly converted. The Mourne men quickly went in front, after an unkind ricochet fell to a Kilkeel forward who volleyed on the turn into the far corner. South regrouped and the makeshift centre back pairing of Adam Marshall and Mark Gray stood firm, allowing just one more short corner, saved easily by Hutchinson in goals. John Semple, on his return to the firsts, was at the heart of everything positive in South’s play. He linked well with other midfielders Jack Redpath and Ward Phillips to take the game to Kilkeel. The break arrived too soon to take advantage of the pressure, with the scores 2-1 to the visitors.
Soon into the second half, a chain of defensive errors lead to another Kilkeel short, duly dispatched again by a drag flick. Knowing they had to find a goal quickly to get back into the game, South stepped it up pressing high up the pitch. The soon won a short corner from another Chris Henry mazy run when he was cynically scythed down inside the final quarter, the offending Kilkeel player was award a green card for his troubles. Henry scored his deflection form the set piece to get South back into it. However, their pressing to get the equalizer was their undoing as a break away lead to another Kilkeel short, dispatched on the rebound after the initial save by Agnew. Credit to the boys that they didn’t give up, Henry was again brought down and South were award another short, this time the Kilkeel keeper was equal to the flick and saved. South switched to a full press and it paid dividends, Getty intercepted an errand pass and played in
Usain Bolt Chris Henry, who used his pace to get by his marker but was yet again fouled before he entered the circle. Another card for Kilkeel and another short for South. Henry again scored a deflection, now a deserved brace from the player causing mayhem. With South really on top and Kilkeel on the ropes, the final whistle went, denying the Lisburner’s an upset. This performance was really encouraging for the young South team, knowing they can match the current experienced Premier League sides will go along way to avoiding relegation and finished in a good position in their debut season. Next week sees the men travel to Raphoe, the only team to beat them on their Senior 1 winning campaign last year. Keen to right a wrong, the team will look to play at the same high standard they showed against Kilkeel.
South Antrim 2nds 2-7 Newry 2nds (N.Wilson, D.Hutchinson)
South Antrim 2nds played away to Newry 2nds, whose firsts played midweek, in their final Junior 1 League Cup group schedule on Saturday. Missing star player John Semple, after he was called up to the 1sts at short notice, left the team with just 11 players to make the trip. This really took its toll as Newry cruised to a 7-2 win, with the majority of goals coming in the second half, when tired legs took their toll. A positive from the game was that forward Neil Wilson scored for the fifth week in succession, he is in good form and can hopefully provide the goals in the league opener this weekend against Kilkeel 2nds. Darren Hutchinson scored the other South goal with a new short corner routine they won’t even tell us about.
South Antrim 3rds 1-0 Portush 2nds (K.Gamble)
The 3rds made the journey to Ballycastle for the late 4pm pass back slot. South Antrim made a strong start and put Portrush under pressure from the offset. Pete Davis and John Massey, called up to the 3rds on the back of fine performances on the 5ths, controlled the team from the back and closed the door on any Portrush attack. Adam Thompson and Jonny Dunne helped to push the team forward from wing back positions, aiding in attack when they could. Kurt Gamble was the hero who secured the points, he span his marker and used his pace to create space for the shot before drilling into the bottom corner on his 3rds debut. South Antrim defended strongly against the final, desperate Portrush attacks to bring the three points back home. Next week sees South Antrim start the league season at home against Cookstown 5ths.
South Antrim 4ths 2-4 Lisnagarvey 6ths (A.Smith, A.Hamilton Jnr)
South Antrim 4ths played their final group game in their League Cup after making the trip out of Lisburn to Hillsborough, to play against Lisnagarvey 6ths. In a tight first half with few chances, Stuart Glenn had the best opportunity; but his quick reactions to get away a shot were matched by the Garvey Keeper. Lisnagarvey, on the other hand, made the most of their best chance and scored from a well worked short corner making the score 1-0 at half time. South came out strongly in the second half and, after a few tactical tweaks, looked the better side for long spells before getting their reward with a well taken volley at the back post from Alan Smith after two fine saves by the opposition keeper from a South short. South pressed on and were rewarded with another goal after a precise pass from Ian McElhenny found the always clinical Junior Hamilton unmarked in the D and he gave the goalkeeper no chance stroking the ball into the bottom corner. However towards the end of the game South were exposed by Garvey’s youthful pace, who capitalised on some tiring legs with several good counter attacks and went on to score 3 goals leaving South on the wrong side of a 4-2 score line.
South Antrim 5ths 2-9 NICS 3rds (C.Black, S.Taggart)
It was a day to forget for the 5ths as they returned from Stormont with nothing, Chris Black scored from a short corner to go one goal up, Civil Service then hit 6 before Simon Taggart netted from open play, Service then romped in another three to close out the game that South barely took part in, ending 9-2. Although they were missing players, the boys realize they underperformed and know they have to be better, especially with the League commencing this weekend, the 5ths play North Down 5ths away in Comber. Captain Trevor Wallace had this to say about the weekend’s game; “Well, we were ******** ******* ******* **** and ***** ******** *****, so we lost!!”
South Antrim Ladies 5-2 Cooke Ladies (C.Rodgers, V.Donaldson x2, A.Richardson, L.Boomer)
The ladies got back to winning ways in emphatic style, a 5-2 win over Cooke Ladies. Charis Rodgers netted before Cooke’s equalizer, Vicky Donaldson netted a brace before Alannah Richardson and Lauren Boomer added to the score line. Cooke scored a sneaky one at the end. The Ladies sights must be set on winning promotion even at this early stage of the season.
South Antrim 2nds 3-0 Holywood 2nds (R.Sullivan x2, L.McConnell)
The Ladies club are on fire this weekend! Nicole Bell’s team thumped their Holywood counterparts by 3 goals with Rachel Sullivan netting twice and Laura McConnell bagging the other. An unprecedented three way tie for player of the match, shared by Emer Drayne, Jill Holley and Rachel Sullivan.
The ladies knew that they faced a challenge, as Holywood are at the top end of their league table. South got off to a good start immediately, putting pressure on Holywood down the wings, with Emer Drayne and Carly Niblock displaying some great link up play.The girls opened the scoring after 15 minutes through a superb solo effort by Rachel Sullivan. South continued to press with Jill Holley and Bethany Lockhart, making great use of the space throughout midfield to eventually create a chance scored by Laura McConnell at the back post. South’s defence managed the Holywood forwards extremely well, minimising the number of chances to strike on goal.
South were unfortunate not to go into the half time break three goals up, as a opportunity created by Erin Rennie for Laura McConnell to covert was saved fantastically by the Holywood goal keeper.
The second half continued to be one way traffic. Holywood defended resolutely until a well worked short corner was smashed home by Rachel Sullivan to put the result beyond doubt. The South ladies were not only delighted with their 3-0 win but also the quality of the team play throughout the match. As momentum builds, they look forward to playing next week against Mossley.