South Antrim 2-2 Mossley (P.Maguire, L.Marshall)
The 1st XI continued their Premier League campaign in the 3pm slot at Friends’ on Saturday past. Their opponents Mossley resided at the bottom of the table prior to the game and presented a tough challenge for the men in red and black. Mossley’s strong Kirk Cup run showed them to be a side of true quality. South Antrim’s task was not made any easier by the absence due to injuries of set piece specialist Adam Glass and the influential Mathew Getty. South Antrim started the game strongly, with the defence, midfield and forward line all linking up well thanks to superb off the ball running from John Semple, who drifted between the lines, and the accurate distribution skills of both Marshall brothers. South Antrim however, took time to make their dominance of possession count as a lack of clear cut chances made them wait for their first goal of the game. The goal however did come when superb skill from Chris Henry won South Antrim their first short of the game. A powerful James Brown flick was well saved by the Mossley keeper however it rebounded to the waiting Paul Maguire who coolly dispatched from just beyond the flick spot. South continued their strong spell but were lucky not to concede after seeing two Mossley corners miss, one clattering off the post and spinning across the goal line after it looked destined for the net. South Antrim were the better side in the first half but Mossley took advantage of a slick corner routine with minutes to go in the first half to make it one all at the halfway break.
The second half was a much more open affair with both sides enjoying an equal share of possession. Both defences did well to limit the opposition’s forwards from increasing the goal tally, however special mention must go to Adam Marshall who again showed what a vital player he is to this team with his masterful display in defence, intercepting passes at ease and building attacks from the back. Mossley controversially took the lead, converting a counter attack move after a forward foot appeared to be used in the build up. South Antrim did not give up and showed great fight and determination throughout the course of the second half. They were eventually rewarded after some great skill in the Mossley circle earned them a stroke when two defenders scythed down Chris Henry when through on goal. The captain Lee Marshall stepped up and was never in doubt as he slotted past the Mossley keeper to level to scores. Shortly after Chris Henry had the chance to bring all 3 points into South’s grasp when played thourgh clear one on one with the keeper, an unorthodox style of keeping unnerved Henry as he simply stood in place until the last possible second when he dived down an dispossessed the forward. In the closing stages the game could have gone either way, with either side having chances to win the game and take all three points. However the game finished two all in what was a throughly exciting game of hockey.
South Antrim 2nds 1-1 Cookstown 2nds (C.Varghese)
South Antrim 2nds lined up against a very strong Cookstown team today in a keenly contested match. Full of confidence due to recent performances, South Antrim continued to impress with fast and fluid counter attacks, starting quickly and putting the Cookstown backline under immediate pressure. The midfield quickly got on top, exchanging quick passes to work their way up the pitch, with only the final ball letting them down. A succession of short corners came to nothing with home goalkeeper Ian Glass making a few decent stops at the other end from the odd foray into the South Antrim final third. The breakthrough nearly came after a superb aerial ball from Jack Moore set Neil Wilson through one-on-one with the keeper. After taking it around him, a reverse from an ever narrowing angle meant a lucky escape for Cookstown. A yellow card for inappropriate language towards the umpires meant that the visitors had to play a spell with 10 men, however, they defended resolutely until being restored to their full compliment of men.
The second half saw a tactical switch from Cookstown, putting the midfielders and defenders of South Antrim under more pressure, until an error allowed the Lisburn team to take the lead. As the goalkeeper retrieved a ball for a visiting team hit out, Cyril Varghese read a poor pass along the backline, tackled his opposing centre back and shot into an unguarded goal to give South Antrim a 1-0 lead. As the game wore on the pattern quickly emerged of periods of possession from Cookstown, with good build up play going unrewarded in the final third, leading to quick counterattacks by the energetic midfield of South Antrim. Cookstown finally got their reward when a short corner was converted midway through the half and this was the beginning of a ten minute spell that nearly saw the mid Ulster side take the lead on a couple of opportunities. Cyril Varghese had an important role in clearing a top corner bound effort off the line following another penalty corner, and they nearly had a penalty stroke also, until a discussion between the two umpires led to a reversal and an award of another short corner. In a fractious finale to the match, temperatures ran high and both teams had chances to win. Ultimately, a high quality match with shared spoils was about fair on both sides, and for South Antrim, the point against a very good Cookstown team meant a good day at the office. Thanks to Jonny Taylor and Willy Redpath for umpiring.
South Antrim 3rds V Mossley 4ths (POSTPONED)
No sale this week, just a frozen pitch, Mossley weren’t up for a game of ice hockey #zerobanter.
South Antrim 4ths – NO GAME
A dismal display from the Baclony Banter Brigade as they failed to brave the cold and sat indoors to watch the games. There was good rendition of ‘Man-Bun’ during the 2s game against Cookstown though.
South Antrim 5ths 2-0 Mossley 5ths (N.Donald, I.McElhinney)
Having not won since Halloween, South 5ths welcomed Mossley 5ths to Wallace High School. With Mossley sitting four points above South prior to hit off, this was a must win match. Playing an attacking formation and starting off with a full press, South took the game by the scruff of the neck and pinned Mossley into their own half. With a much improved effort over recent weeks and playing more flowing hockey, South soon took the lead with a Nathan Donald reverse strike. Adam Pyper’s blistering pace was causing the Mossley defence all sorts of problems throughout the half and 20 minutes in, he found McElhinney on the flick spot whose lighting reflexes saw him turn and blast the ball into the roof of the net. South could have been more up by half time but the Mossley keeper was in fine form, denying first Pyper and then Donald from clear cut opportunities. With 2 minutes until half time, Mossley won a short corner. With the ball beating Hutchinson in nets after a straight strike and heading for the goal, Trevor Wallace was on hand to calmly turn the ball around the post. The second half followed much of the same pattern as the first, with South pressing high and the defensive line of Davidson, Moore and Kay stopping any counterattack. Chances came but again the Mossley keeper was on hand to deal with them. The match finished 2-0 to South Antrim.
South Antrim Ladies 1-1 Parkview Ladies (S.Neill)
After a heavy defeat in their away match against this side, South Antrim Ladies were keen to claim the points in the home match. Within the first five minutes, after some clever passing from the defence through to midfield, Charis Rodgers collected the ball, took it to the edge of the circle and crossed to an awaiting Stephanie Neill who swiftly placed it past the Parkview keeper before she cause dive across. South kept the pressure on, skilfully working together to bypass the Parkview players, but were unable to score the all important second goal that would have crushed Parkview. However, solid defence from Zara Carson, Allison Marsden, Vicky Donaldson and Elaine Aiken prevented Parkview from equalizing in the first half.
The second half saw the ladies play great hockey, but unfortunately Parkview equalised from a counter attack which left the South defence trying to cope with an overcrowded circle and the ball crossed the line in a scramble. With five minutes to go Charis Rodgers was denied the winning goal after her reverse stick strike was deflected away by a Parkview defender on the line. The Ladies had to content themselves with a 1-1 draw, however, they have gained another valuable point and can take heart from knowing that had the beating of this team.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 0-4 Portaodwn Ladies 3rds
An extremely physical performance from the Portadown Ladies put the girls on the back foot for most of the game. The Ports players bullied their way past the South defender’s and the young Southies had no answer. The visitors racked up four goals in a day to forget for South against the league leaders.
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 1-2 Banbridge 4ths (L.McDonnell)
The girls went a goal down early on but showed character beyond (most of) their years to keep fighting against a well drilled Banbridge team who sit comfortably in the top half of the table. Rachel Sullivan nearly leveled as she was dribbled into free space in the circle but smashed her shot inches wide of the back post. A neat interchange between Danielle Heasley and Laura McConnell find an equaliser, with the latter scoring a neat finish. Unfortunately, against the spirit of Christmas, Banbridge scored late on the steal all the points for themselves.
A young South side put in another great shift and deserved more from the game. They held the Banbridge side, who sit comfortably in the top half of the table, for long periods. Bann got a goal early in the first half. Rachel Sullivan had a chance for South to level as she was played in free at the top of the circle but smashed her shot inches past the back post. A neat interchange between Danielle Heasley and Laura McDonnell led to the later netting a leveller. Unfortunately, against the Christmas spirit, Banbridge scored a second in the last ten to deny South a point and stole the spoils for themselves.