South Antrim 2nds 2-2 Banbridge 2nds (D.Hutchinson, N.Gamble)
Saturday saw a mid-table clash in Junior 1, in which South Antrim 2nd XI hosted Banbridge 2nd XI. Many saw Banbridge as favourites as they have been an established team this league for many years now, in contrast to the Lisburn side who are debutants. The reverse fixture saw Banbridge win by a narrow 2 goals to 1. Hungry for revenge, South Antrim were determined to draw points.
The game started with high intensity from both sides, setting the pace for the upcoming 70 minutes. Banbridge were first to cause any real threats on goal, with Ian Glass making a comfortable save at his near post, following some good interplay. This early attack was a wake up call to the home side and South soon began to link some clever play in the middle of the pitch. The pressure soon began to tell, with Mark Conn making a clever run into the D and winning the first short corner of the game. The result saw Neil Wilson unleash a tomahawk over the bar and a free-out ensued.
South sustained the pressure in the Banbridge half and another penalty corner was won, this time from a chop tackle on Nathan Gamble. Having won the corner, Nathan took it in the form of a low drag flick, which forced the keeper into making a save. Mark Conn followed in and won a penalty flick for his effort which struck a foot on the goal line. Darren Hutchinson confidently stepped up and slotted the flick home coolly into the bottom corner, leaving the keeper helpless.
Following the goal, Banbridge increased the pressure upon the South Antrim defence, however centre backs, Matt Frazer and Phil Spoughton, were able to deal with anything the Ban forwards could throw at them. Towards the end of the half, the game opened up, with chances to score for both sides. Notably a clever move which stemmed from James Brown to Jack Redpath, who was pulling the strings in midfield, and resulted in Cyril Varghese having a close range deflection which he was unable to convert. The whistle sounded for half time, with South a goal to the good over the visitors.
Banbridge came into the half knowing they’d need an early goal to resurrect their hopes of 3 points. They didn’t have long to wait. Ensuing a good spell of possession for the away side, they won their first penalty corner of the half. This saw a well placed drag flick into the left netting of Glass’s goal. With newfound confidence, the visiting team again pressed the South goal. A foul just outside the 25 saw Banbridge play a crash ball into the D and an unmarked forward was able to dispatch a resounding deflection, turning the game on its head.
Towards the end of the game, the pitch opened up and again, chances were aplenty for both sides. Neil Wilson held off a Banbridge defender outside of the D forcing him to make a cynical foul and a short corner was awarded. Again, Nathan Gamble was at the head of the circle and following a slick pull out by Jack Moore, he was able to execute a low drag flick which found its way into the bottom corner, possibly helped on its way by Cyril Varghese.
In the last 10 minutes South were lucky to hold on to the draw with huge chances for Ban to score. They would have undoubtedly taken the three point had it not been for crucial diving stick save by Ian Glass to deflect the ball over the bar and a goal line clearance by Phil Spoughton.
Both sides had their chances to score and steal the 3 points and so a point-a-piece was a fair result.
South Antrim 3rds 1-4 Portadown 2nds (S.Hood)
South Antrim 3rds hosted Portadown 2nds in the Ulster Junior Shield. Portadown are well placed in the league above South 3rds and showed their class winning 4-1. Despite their dominance in the scoreline, it was South who struck the first blow with Stephen Hood getting a goal. They head on for a long while with great defending but in the second half Portadown found a short corner routine that worked and scored and equalizer. Moments later they score another, also a short corner. Confidence fell knowing they had a lot to do to get back into this game. It got harder as Portadown scored on the break to take a 3-1 lead. They then rounded off the scoring with another short corner in the final minutes.
South Antrim 4ths 3-1 Mossley 5ths (A.Hamilton Jnr x2, B.Faulkner)
South Antrim 4ths travelled to Glengormley to face Mossley 5ths in the Minor Cup. South came out of the blocks slowly in the first half and were unfortunate to concede a freak goal with the ball rebounding off the keeper to a free Mossley man 2 yards out with the net at his mercy. However, conceding this early goal galvanised a young fourth IX side to tighten up at the back but throughout the first half chances were few and far between for either side. Early in the second half South got the equaliser through Junior, with a deft touch in the D to guide in a Ben Faulkner cross. Ben then got himself a goal as well after a deflection in the D feel kindly to leave him with a fairly easy finish. This was by no means a one sided game with Mossely having chances of their own and South at times rode their luck but were ultimately comfortable in dealing with any threat to their goal. An open game led to a breakaway goal from Junior again with another Ben assist in a déjà vu fashion to his first. This takes Junior’s tally for the season to 23 and allows south to progress through to the next round of the Minor Cup.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 1-0 Owls 2nds (A.Wright)
Amy Wright nets the winner in a tight game with Owls 2nds. Her stellar performance also earned her Player of the Match.
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 0-5 Mossley Ladies 4ths
A disappointing afternoon for the ladies 3rds as they were steam rolled 5-0 by the visiting Mossley team.