South Antrim 1-9 Pembroke Wanderers (L.Marshall)
After a brief absence, South Antrim were back in Irish Hockey’s most prestigious competition. This time around they had one of the toughest draws of the round, facing up against a very talented Pembroke Wanderers side. This tie maybe came at a good time for Pembroke as it gave them a break from their disappointing start to the new Irish Hockey League.
The First ten minutes of the game was quite a cagey affair with South Antrim creating the better of the chances. This showed when Ward Phillips beat his man and crossed the ball across the face of the goal only for Chris Henry to narrowly miss the ball after a diving attempt. As the game grew Pembroke began to take control gaining more of the possession but they still couldn’t find a way through the resolute centre-back partnership of Adam Marshall and Mark Gray with Marshall making some particularly impressive goal saving tackles. This theme would continue throughout the match.
Pembroke finally made the crucial breakthrough midway through the 1st half when a slick move got them to the base line and a pass to the flick spot allowed for an easy tap in. The away side continued to defend strongly against a team that contained a number of Irish International players and conceded four more quick goals towards the end of the 1st half, with the home netting three short corners from three attempts. This made the score 5-0 at half time but didn’t stop the young South Antrim team desire to get back into the match.
The 2nd half was a much tighter affair after South Antrim found their footing. Continuing their high pressing game, they put the Pembroke defence under pressure and forced a number of short corners which narrowly missed their target. Maybe one of the toughest jobs of the day for South Antrim was in midfield, facing up against some of Pembroke’s most talented players. This was done superbly by the tireless work of Lee Marshall and John Semple who managed to win some battles of his own. This work ethic spread throughout the team and made Pembroke frustrated but South Antrim began to tire with the continued onslaught and this showed when Pembroke scored another 3 goals in quick succession.
Towards the end of the game South Antrim began to take the game to Pembroke with Chris Henry having notable success down the right hand side. This pressure finally got it’s reward when Chris Henry used his pace to get to the baseline and win a short corner. After discussing tactics at the top of the circle, South Antrim executed a short corner perfectly when Adam Glass switched the ball back to Lee Marshall to duly convert into the bottom corner. South nearly added a second as another reverse stick cross from Phillips was inches in front of both Henry and Gamble as it dived to reach it as it continued on and hit the post and bounced clear. Pembroke would score one more goal to make the final score 9-1 to the home side. The difference certainly showed in the quality of finishing from the Pembroke side, where nearly every chance was converted into a goal.
South Antrim can take a lot of heart from this match as it will certainly be the toughest match they will play all year. It is also this level of competition that they need to be aiming for if they wish to improve in the coming years.
South Antrim 2nds 2-1 Mossley 2nds (N.Wilson x2)
South Antrim 2nds faced Mossley 2nds on a windy Saturday afternoon at Friends’ School. From the start, William Redpath’s team dominated the game with efforts from Chris Arnott going just wide of the post. South continued to apply pressure to the Mossley back four with Mark Conn and Jamie Dawson winning penalty corners. Unfortunately, nothing came out of them until Darren Hutchinson and Jamie Dawson executed a lovely routine on the edge of the circle to win yet another corner for South. This time South were clinical with Neil Wilson scoring with a deflection after an initial save by the Mossley keeper. However, Mossley quickly won a short corner after the restart which resulted in a penalty stroke being awarded after an outstanding stop on the line by Matt Frazer which unfortunately hit his body en route. The stroke was converted and both teams went into the break all square at one each.
The second half started like the first with South applying more and more pressure. Eventually the second goal came after Jamie Dawson and Mark Conn worked together to force a turnover by Mossley. Conn sprinted up the pitch and threaded a neat ball into Neil Wilson who chipped the keeper and slammed it home to give South a 2-1 lead. Mossley tried to answer back with nice work down the right hand side, however Ian Glass was on hand in nets to pull off an excellent save to keep South ahead. The game became more and more open as time went on with Andrew Farrell firing excellent aerials down the line for Jamie Dawson to run on to. Unfortunately nothing came off this play. With the game coming to a close, Mossley became more and more frantic with their efforts to level the game but the South back four remained like a brick wall allowing nothing through. With merely seconds to go, South yet again forced a turnover and countered at pace winning a penalty corner on the stroke of the final whistle. Unfortunately South were unable to convert and the game finished 2-1 to South Antrim. A great team performance from South Antrim to record their yet another win at Prospect Hill. Thanks go to Geordie McCandless for umpiring the match.
South Antrim 3rds 4-1 Cliftonville 2nds (G.Glass x2, C.McCandless, K.Gamble)
South Antrim 3rds had a home game against Cliftonville 2nds, although the team were sitting top of the league they knew they had to be prepared for a tough game as captain and goalkeeper, Ashley Sloan was unavailable. However, they had nothing to fear as they raced into the lead with a Callum McCandless tap in after great build up play. George Glass netted a brace soon after, one a trademark hit from a short corner. Kurtis Gamble added a fourth in the second half after dribbling from the halfway before striking across goal into the far corner. Cliftonville scored a consolation goal after the Lisburn side had stepped off the gas.
South Antrim 4ths 3-3 Mossley 4ths (J.Taylor, A.Glass Jnr, B.Brittain-Dissont)
South Antrim 4ths travelled away to play Mossley 4ths on Friday night. The team was missing their captain and left back, Graeme Alister, and regular sweeper Alan Smith which caused some problems at the back. However, after a shaky start South went 1-0 up after a great individual effort from Jonny Taylor at a short corner. The cracks at the back began to appear shortly after, and South conceded two in quick succession, including a cruel deflection off a defender’s stick to give the keeper no chance. After the half time break, South came out fighting and managed to go 3-2 up against the Mossley side with goals from Adam Glass and Bryce Brittain-Dissont. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on and late in the game Mossley equalised with a break away goal forcing South to leave with only a point. Still a well-earned result on a cold Friday night away to Mossley.
South Antrim 5ths 0-4 Lisnagarvey 6ths
South 5ths travelled to Garvey 5ths. Having beaten the 4ths earlier in the season, the 5ths knew they were on for a tough match. However, South opened from the start with an attacking style of play. The midfield moved the ball about and Pyper, McElhinney and Faulkner were causing the Garvey defence problems. With Mills going off early in the first half injured, young Jonny Hailes saw his chance to make a mark on the match. However, Garvey were the first to capitalise. A well worked short corner squeezed past keeper Wallace’s outstretched leg to go one up. In the second half, south had numerous chances to score. Hailes won the ball worked his way into the circle but his reverse hit shot was saved by the keeper. McElhinney blasted one from the edge, but again it hit the keeper. Pyper dribbled the ball into the circle but, again, South couldn’t find the net. Garvey got themselves organised, and with a break down the right they pinched a second. A short corner soon after made it 3. South pushed but with the last play of the game squeezed in a 4th. The young side will rue their many missed chances that could’ve changed the game.
South Antrim Ladies 0-1 PSNI Ladies
With a week off last weekend, the Ladies 1sts were determined to get back on winning form and bag all three points. After beating PSNI 4-0 away at the beginning of the season, the ladies were feeling very confident. However, with a slow start in very difficult weather conditions, PSNI managed to put one past the South keeper in the first 10 minutes via strike from a short corner that took an unfortunate deflection and ended up in the corner of the goal. The South Ladies fought back hard, with great attacks from Abi Trimble and a lot of fight up front from Steph Neill. With tireless work from the midfield, the ladies kept possession and were working PSNI hard. The second half started in the same manner as the 1st ended, dominated by South. Despite all the possession and shots on goal, the girls couldn’t get one past PSNI keeper and the final score was 1-0 to PSNI. The scoreline definately didn’t do the girls justice an didn’t reflect how well the girls played. Player of the match was Zara Carson.. Excellent work from the girls who are still determined to climb the league table and still have a good chance of fighting for promotion this season.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds v Ulster Elks Ladies 4ths (Postponed)
This 2nd place clash was abandoned due to weather just after South had taken a 2-1 lead. #sorelosers
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 1-1 Ards 5ths (L.McConnell)
More history is made this weekend as the newly formed South Antrim Ladies 3rds won their first point. A goal courtesy of Laura McConnell was enough to secure a draw. The girls remain a point behind Ards 5ths and sit bottom, but don’t forget their 5 games in hand!