South Antrim 5-3 North Down (A.Glass, C.Henry x2, P.Maguire, M.Getty)
Last weekend saw South Antrim host North Down at Friends’ School Lisburn. South, having lost their first two games of the league campaign in closely contested encounters, were keen to get back to winning ways. This was evident in the way South started the game, putting North Down under pressure and forcing mistakes. The high tempo South were playing at soon paid off when some neat skill down the right led to a short corner being awarded. South have struggled recently with short corners, however, Adam Glass stepped up and made no mistake and flicked the ball expertly into the bottom corner.
South continued their dominance and soon after, the ball was played to Chris Henry at the top of the circle. Having beat two men with an arcing turn, Chris slotted the ball past the keeper, only for Paul Maguire to throw himself at the ball ‘to make sure it went in’ and add one to his tally for the season. After this goal, North Down grew into the game and won several short corners which were well defended by the South short corner team, with keeper Mark Hutchinson shining in particular. Soon after, North Down missed a clear cut opportunity when, after a rebound fell to their forward in front of goal, he narrowly missed the target from 6 yards out under pressure from the keeper.
The North Down pressure finally told when some sloppy defending in the South circle led to a short corner being awarded. This time the flicker, Shepherd, made no mistake, sending the ball powerfully into the corner to bring North Down back into the game at 2-1. This seemed to wake the Lisburn side up and just before half time, South doubled their lead after some strong play on the right hand side ended with Mark Gray crashing a ball in and a deft deflection from Chris Henry at the near post left the North Down keeper stranded.
The half-time break saw North Down come out with a much more physical game plan. This left several South players on the ground and unfortunately for North Down, several players serving time in the sin bin. However, South were unable to capitalise on the numerical advantage as they picked up several cards of their own for breaking down play and stick tackles in their haste. With North Down chasing the game, spaces began to open up for South and after some direct running from Nathan Gamble, his partner; Matthew Getty, found himself at the top of the circle in space and dispatched the ball past the keeper with ease.
The next goal brought the Comber side back into the game, after a contentious short corner was awarded after the ball seemed to be played cleanly in a tackle by Jonny Patterson, Shepherd stepped up and once again fired the ball into the net. The North Down side showed some fight however and once again managed to get themselves back into the game after a South player was carded for a stick tackle, they broke down the right and from a tight angle managed to hammer the ball in off the far post.
Having lost the previous two games in the last 10 minutes, the South side must have been worried that this pattern was going to continue but this was not to be the case. South managed to win a short corner with 5 minutes to go and after a great double save from the keeper the ball fell kindly to Chris Henry who hammered the ball into the net and give the Lisburn side their first points in the Premier League. Coach, Ross Johnston, said after the game that “It was a deserved victory, the guys played some great hockey and dug deep when they came under pressure in the second half.”
This young South side can look forward to a break this weekend, having been given a bye through the first round of the Irish Senior Cup.
South Antrim 2nds 0-3 Annadale 2nds
South 2nds were defeated by a well drilled Annadale side in their second league match at Lough Moss on Saturday. After an excellent opening day win against Kilkeel in Lisburn last week, the 2nds went into the game in Carryduff in good spirits and with high hopes. However, it quickly became clear that Dale would prove much stiffer opposition than the Mourne men and the opening 10 minutes brought almost relentless attacks from the home side’s forwards. South defended well though and their defensive shape impressed the supporters who enjoyed the game in fine conditions. Frustratingly it was only after South had weathered this early onslaught that Annadale took the lead. A home forward beat a couple of men on the left and side of the circle and hit a crisp reverse shot through a crowd of players, including Glass in goal to give Dale the advantage. Just before half time, Calum McCandless had a goal disallowed, and almost immediately Annadale went up the other end and doubled their tally; a quick break saw a forward beat the south defence and finish with a cool lob over the onrushing Glass.
In the 2nd half, Annadale were happy to protect their lead and allowed the away midfield more of the ball. Darren Hutchinson continued his impressive start to the season and combined well with the excellent Jack Redpath in the middle. There were few chances for the visitors, opportunities for Conn and McCandless unfortunately came to nothing. As South pushed forward seeking a way back into the game, Annadale got their third when a forward finished with a deflected effort from close range. Despite this defeat, South 2nds are enjoying their debut season in Junior 1 and they can look forward to their next match against Banbridge 2nds with optimism. Thanks must go to Gordie McCandless for travelling to umpire.
South Antrim 3rds 2-0 North Down 4ths (K.Gamble, G.Glass)
South Antrim made the journey to North Down on the back of a few solid performances. South started strongly but could not get any success in the final quarter thanks to stout defending from the home side. North Down began to grow into the game towards the end of the half. South started brightly after the break and were rewarded when Kurtis Gamble spun his marker and pinged the ball into the bottom corner. As the second half wore on it became evenly contested and it took veteran George Glass eased the nerves, by thundering a short corner home with a trademark long handled hit. The South back line shut up shop and ensured the 3 points came back to Lisburn and thus retaining their top spot in the league. South take on Newry at Friends’ School next Saturday.
South Antrim 4ths 1-4 NICS 3rds (A.Hamilton Jnr)
South Antrim 4ths had an away trip to fellow leader leaders, NICS 3rds last weekend. Unfortunately the team were slow out of the traps against a well drilled side and were punished. South went 1-0 down early in the game after a ball crashed in and rebounded kindly off a South stick to a Service player unmarked in the circle and he made no mistake from close range. South grew into the game but just things were clicking, they were dealt a sucker punch and went 2-0 down, after a good short corner drill by Service. South picked themselves up and hit back with a goal of their own. After some carnage in the box, Junior managed to pounce on a loose ball and skilfully guided it in from close range to bring the scoreline back to 2-1. However, yet again as South looked to gain control, Service managed got another goal, just before the first half was over. Another crashed ball into the circle left keeper Andrew Wallace with no chance from the deflection. After some stern halftime words, it was South that had the most of the ball in second half but were unable to score again to get back in the game, despite countless short corners. Service scored again late on from another short corner, controversially given in South’s eyes. This mean the game ended 4-1 to the hosts.
South Antrim 5ths 2-6 Down 1sts (S.Geary, B.Faulkner)
South 5s were looking to capitalise against a weakened Down 1s who only had 9 players at the start of the game. However, it was Down that started strongly with the South players unsure of who they were marking in the odd formation that Down employed. The visitors won a series of short corners that were defended well by South’s defensive team. With south trying to break the deadlock, Down counterattacked with a long ball to go one goal up. South immediately responded with good work by Ben Faulkner on the right, whose pass was slotted in from close range by Shane Geary. The 2nd half started with Down the better team, and they were duly reward as they scored again on the counterattack to regain a 1 goal lead. South responded soon after, with Ben Faulkner working the ball well in the circle to grab himself an equaliser. However, it was undone as sloppy marking and loose passing let Down score two more in close succession. South tried to get a foothold in the game, with Maurice Bell on his debut, trying to move the ball about the pitch and create attacks. In the final ten minutes, Down scored two more to put the game beyond doubt. One goal from a short corner and the last from another quick break.
South Antrim Ladies 3-0 Malone Ladies (V.Donaldson x2, L.Boomer)
The South Antrim ladies knew how important it was to take three points from Malone on Saturday after experiencing a shock defeat against Ballynahinch the previous week. With two players missing, South had to field a team with a few last minute changes, always a good start.
Nevertheless, the Ladies began the game very much in control, constantly on the attack and enjoying most of the possession. Vicky Donaldson was on top form and in the early stages, she weaved her way through the Malone defenders and with a deft touch from the supporting Lauren Boomer, prompted the Malone keeper to make a bit of an error as she put her attempted clearance backwards over the goal line. Throughout the first half, South created numerous opportunities, and they’d thought they’d added a second with a lob over the keeper from Stephanie Neill, but it disallowed for a foul in the build up. The Ladies won, and squandered, numerous short corners. However, towards the end of the first half, they doubled their tally, as Vicky Donaldson found herself with a clear shot at goal, which she executed confidently, as the Malone defenders appeared to await an umpire’s call that never came.
The team started the second half where they left off, with forwards Vicky Donaldson, Abbie Trimble and Alex Dugan leaving the Malone team merely observing the game as they skilfully manoeuvred the ball into the circle at will. Vicky Donaldson sealed the victory for South with a run along the back line before cutting inside and finishing with a neatly placed ball under the Malone keeper. Vicky Donaldson rightly won Player of the Match for another stellar display.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 1-0 Owls 2nds (L.McConnell)
The Ladies 2s continued their great start in this league after last year’s promotion, bagging another 3 points against Owls. Laura McConnell was the saviour, scoring in the dying seconds. The celebrations were mad. The Ladies started brightly, with young Lucy Fitzpatrick setting up the first chance, Laura McConnell got a touch on the cross but a defender got in the way to clear. Defenders Anna MacFarlane and Nicole Bell put in good stints to keep the visitors quiet. Carly Niblock put in yet another great hard working performance on the right wing.