South Antrim 2-2 NICS (L.Marshall, P.Maguire)
Having won their first match of the premier league campaign a fortnight ago, South went into their match against Civil Service with confidence. Of course, the two sides had previously met in the Kirk Cup group stage in September with the Belfast side coming out on top in a 4-1 victory. But it was South who started the brighter of the two sides under the Friday night lights at Friends’ School. The midfield duo of John Semple and Lee Marshall found themselves in acres of space in the middle of the pitch and orchestrated much of South’s good play in the first period. Ward Phillips drilled a delightful diagonal cross on his reverse into the danger area which just evaded the stick of the on-rushing Paul Maguire. That man Maguire then had a glorious opportunity to put the hosts ahead on twenty minutes, but could only watch as his reverse stick effort from mid-circle glanced off the upright.
With Service’s main asset being Chris Barnes’ drag flick, South had their tactics spot on and confined much of the visitors’ play to areas of the pitch that were never likely to pose a threat. Pressure from the forward quartet of Gamble, Henry, Maguire and Brown all caused numerous problems to the Service back line during the opening 35 minute period whilst the back four, and Adam Marshall in particular, defended resolutely to keep Service at bay. It was inevitable, however, that the visitors would win a short corner and indeed their first arrived on the stroke of half time. This was competently dealt with by the South defensive quintet and the score remained 0-0 at the break.
Whatever message was delivered to the hosts at half time, by coach Ross Johnston, certainly paid dividends as the youthful South side exploded out of the blocks. A surging run from Chris Henry down the right led to the winning of the home side’s first short corner of the evening. After the initial corner was defended illegally with a foot, the subsequent clever routine ended with South’s captain – Lee Marshall – putting the ball in the net. Good value for their lead, South continued to make inroads to try and increase their advantage. Mark Gray and Matthew Getty have forged a terrific understanding with each other in the early stages of this season and after some neat interplay, the former tee’d up Paul Maguire who deflected the ball home to double South’s lead.
At 2-0, this was the wake up call Service needed and the Belfast side began to assert themselves more on the game as the half wore on. A flurry of short corners was awarded in quick succession but South’s ‘keeper, Mark Hutchinson, was on hand to avert any danger. Service did, however, reduce the deficit shortly after with a short corner routine switched right which agonisingly crept over the line. With little over ten minutes remaining, that man Chris Barnes grabbed a share of the spoils for the visitors with a trademark drag flick dispatched high into the net. South continued to cause Service problems and very nearly grabbed themselves a late winner. A driven ball from Mark Gray somehow managed to pass everyone in the D little more than 5 yards out from the goal line and, following this, an exquisite through ball from John Semple sent Getty clear, but the covering Service defender dealt with it competently.
Whilst South will perhaps be disappointed to not come away with the three points, they can be happy with their all round performance and application. The Lisburn team dominated large portions of the game against a formidable, established and experienced Premier League side.
The boys will be looking to use this result as a springboard for further success in the coming weeks with Newry and Portadown the next visitors.
South Antrim 2nds 3-5 Cookstown 2nds (D.Hutchinson x2, M.Conn)
South Antrim 2nds continued their Junior 1 campaign with a hard fought game on a cold Saturday afternoon in Cookstown. The 2nds made the long journey to compete against Cookstown’s seconds. The Lisburn side got off to a good start, creating chances and having good periods of ball possession but it was the men from Mid-Ulster who got the first goal, a well worked move which lead to a tap in back post. South then showed great character and determination by getting a goal back through a reverse from Darren. After this the Cookstown side applied a lot of pressure, which the South defence handled well, until Cookstown scored a well worked short corner. Once again the Lisburn side showed great character and fought back with another goal from Hutchinson after James Brown read a telegraphed pass and intercepted. This brought the two sides in at half time level.
The second half started, and Cookstown started brightly with a goal from open play early on in the half. This was followed up by good pressure from the Lisburn side but they just weren’t able to convert their chances into goals. Cookstown then added another goal with a counter attack which lead to a well converted short corner. Cookstown then started to pressure the Lisburn men and after a sustained pressure they scored another well worked short corner. South Antrim’s heads didn’t go down as the fought back and scored another, this time from a neat Mark Conn deflection from a tight angle. The men from Lisburn then started to pile on the pressure in the closing stages but were unable to convert their chances as the Cookstown keeper was on top form this day. Thanks must go to Geordie McCandless for umpiring the game.
South Antrim 3rds 1-0 Mossley 4ths (G.Glass)
The run goes on, the 3rds are yet to drop points, yet to even concede a goal and they sit pretty at the top of Junior 4. Despite their dominance the 3rds could only register the one goal, another from George Glass at a short corner. Captain Ashley Sloan is now away on a 3 week scouting trip to Mexico to search for hidden talent to help bolster his squad.
South Antrim 4ths 6-0 Belfast Harlequins 3rds (A.Smith x3, A.Glass x2, A.Hamilton Jnr)
South Antrim 4ths looked to bounce back after a tough start to the season with an away match at Harlequins 3rds. The game started well for South, with a good short corner routine with Jonny Taylor smartly moving the ball left to Alan Smith who stuck the ball well into the bottom corner of the goal. Alan was a threat that Quins had no answer to throughout the encounter and he added 2 more goals to his tally with another couple of short corners. South, however, were not just a threat from set pieces and Adam Glass proved this with a well struck half volley from the top of the circle that left the goalkeeper with no chance. Adam went on to score again and Junior scored South’s final goal in his customary poaching style. South were very solid at the back and left their own goalkeeper with just a few saves and were able to keep a clean sheet with the scoreline finishing 6-0.
South Antrim 5ths 2-6 Ballymena 1sts (I.McElhinney, A.Pyper)
South 5ths travelled to Ballymena to take on their 1sts. South started well pressing the Ballymena defence in their own half. Shortly after, a well worked ball found Geary at the back post but his deflection just went wide. Further good play nearly resulted in an opener for South but was scrambled away in a mosh pit of players. Half way through the first half, a poor clearance was picked up by the Ballymena forwards and taken into the circle, young Faulkner saved the first shot but Ballymena pounced on the rebound to go one up. South kept on playing, but slack marking let Ballymena thorough on goal to go two up. Two more attacks ended with soft goals and it was 4-0 at half time to the hosts. South regrouped at half time and started the 2nd half strongly and pressed Ballymena back into their own half. After 20 mins McElhinney scored from a short corner to end his drought, with a well hit strike going through the keepers legs. This woke up Ballymena who started to attack but Aaron Moore and the still youthful Gary McCormack kept them at bay. South pushed on and were rewarded when the ball struck by McElhinney hit the post and Pyper pounced for South’s 2nd. South pressed higher but Ballymena countered and exploited the space at the back and scored again. Ballymena ended the scoring with a bizarre goal. The ball came into the South circle and popped up into the air from a stretching defender. With the ball was heading over the crossbar before a Ballymena forward hit the ball down, bouncing it off the unfortunate Faulkner’s head and into the net.
South Antrim Ladies 1-1 Instonians Ladies (L.Boomer)
Last Friday night the South Antrim Ladies 1sts travelled to Shawsbridge to take on the league leaders, Instonians 1st. The ladies were on the ball from the first whistle with the South midfielders Vicky Donaldson, Elaine Aiken and Charis Seeds feeding the ball to the forwards, they created numerous chances. Welcoming Wendy Li back from a lengthy injury, the South defensive line confidently cleared any loose balls and prevented the Instonians forwards from entering the circle. The quick transitions around the back between defenders Jo Clarke, Wendy Li and Zara Carson also had the Instonians team unable to set up an effective press. The South ladies created many opportunities in the first half but it was again Lauren Boomer who nicked the first goal for South. Boomer is rapidly gathering the goals for South and this week proved no different. Positioning herself in front of the keeper she picked up a ball crossed into the circle and worked it past the keeper with a clever spin.
After a few necessary changes due to in-game injuries, the South Ladies came began the second half with quite an unsettled, unfamiliar team. Instonians took full advantage of this and managed to convert a corner thus leaving the scoreline 1-1. For the duration of the second half the South Ladies worked tirelessly to try and pull ahead again but unfortunately were unable to net the final necessary goal and the game closed out. However, this gives the ladies another point which leaves them just 2 points behind the Inst and still aiming for the chance of promotion this season.
South Antrim Ladies 2nds 2-0 South Antrim Ladies 3rds (L.McConnell, E.Drayne)
The Ladies 2nds proved why they were the 2nds with a comfortable and confident win over the newly formed Ladies 3rds. Laura McConnell opened the scoring with a superbly executed finish from beyond flick spot after the 2nds midfield toyed with the 3rds defence. Emer Drayne scored the second with a powerful precision strike from the edge of the area into the corner after a brilliant through ball was played into her. A great performance keeping up their great run in the league.
South Antrim Ladies 3rds 0-2 South Antrim Ladies 2nds
The Ladies 3rds had their first ever match this weekend, they put the Ladies 2nds to the sword and made them work incredibly hard for their points in a game that could have easily seen the 3rds run out victors. The 3rds were easily soaking up the pressure from the 2nds before a hopeful pass into the circle fell to Laura McConnell via a kind deflection, she miscontrolled the ball, wrong footing the goalkeeper, before scoring with a tame push past the stranded keeper. The second was equally as lucky as yet another kind ricochet fell kindly to a 2nds forward, Emer Drayne, who topped her shot, accidentally skewing it into the opposite corner to which she was aiming, leaving the keeper with no chance.