PORTADOWN 8 – 2 ANTRIM
Antrim travelled to Edenville Park on Saturday to play Portadown in their last Premier League match of the season. Captain Dean Wilson again struggled to get eleven players who were willing to play in this match. It took only four minutes for Portadown to take the lead when a harmless pass into the goalmouth saw the unfortunate Adrian Murtland deflect the ball and watch it trickle over the line past the wrong footed goalkeeper Andy Heatley. Portadown won their first penalty corner in the fifth minute but the strong goal bound shot was blocked by Heatley and the ball cleared away. Antrim mounted a few forward forays with Alex McBride and Ryan McCrea attacking down the wings forcing the ball into the circle but their weak final efforts were easily smothered or their goalbound passes went astray. In the 12th minute an ariel pass from Mullan found McBride in the circle but his strong shot was confidently blocked by the Portadown goalkeeper and the danger was averted. Most of the Antrim attacks ended with carless passes going askew or the ball being easily blocked by stubborn strong Portadown defending. The ball rebounded of goalkeeper Heatley’s pads to hit a defender’s foot in the 14th minute and from the resultant penalty corner the ball was fired into the backboards at the unguarded left hand post to give Portadown the 2-0 lead. Midfielders Mullan, Murtland and Thomas Allen were working hard to get the ball through to the forwards but time and time again the ball was lost with passes being misdirected or they were caught in possession time after time. Portadown took advantage of very sloppy Antrim defending and won a series of penalty corners but fortunately goalkeeper Heatley was in his usual top form and the ball was cleared away time after time. Portadown kept up the pressure a lot of which the Antrim team inflicted upon themselves when in the majority of cases their bad clearances and passes went straight to Portadown players. Then in the 30th minute the ball was played into the Antrim goalmouth where goalkeeper Heatley and a home forward clashed and to the astonishment of some the umpire awarded a penalty stroke and despite strong protests the penalty was upheld and the ball fired into the net for the 3-0 lead. There were no further goals before half time and as the game progressed into the second half it was fairly obvious that a lot of the Antrim players were struggling to compete and the homesters gradually took more and more control of this game. Antrim won their first penalty corner in the 40th minute and despite two defenders being sent to the half way line for an infringement the chance was squandered. Portadown added goal number four in the 45th minute when a player was allowed to run into the circle from the right to lay the ball off for an unmarked team mate to drive it into the net and within three minutes they scored goal number five when a hit out went straight to an unmarked forward who stepped into the circle to fire the ball past the helpless Heatley. Straight from the hit off Antrim broke down the left and a Dean Wilson, interchange with McCrea set McBride free to slam the ball into the net to score their first goal. It was backs to the wall time for Antrim as they struggled to stay in the game with goalkeeper Heatley performing his heroics making save after save as time progressed. Then a cross into the Antrim goalmouth was deflected past the advancing Heatley for goal number six in the 63rd minute. With the Antrim discipline slowly disintegrating Portadown added two more goals in the 68th and 69th minute before McCrea nipped in to score their second just before the final whistle. This brought Antrim’s worst ever league campaign to an end without a single point from 17 games. They conceded a total of 115 goals scoring only 21 goals in reply. It was very disappointing that a lot of their regular players dropped out after the shock 4-2 defeat in the New Year’s Day Linden Cup Final but a big thank you to the rest of the players who loyally battled on to complete the season. After a period for reflection it will be time to regroup, reorganise and start again in the Intermediate League next season where the young players will have time to hone their skills and enjoy playing in much more competitive matches.
Antrim Squad :- A Heatley, A Mullan, A Murtland, D Wilson, C Murray, M Watt, A McBride, T Allen, R McCrea, S Gammon and M Watt.
ANTRIM SECONDS 1 – 1 MOSSLEY FOURTHS
Relegation threatened Antrim Seconds entertained Mossley Fourths in a league match at the Paddy Marks Arena on Saturday. Two strong teams of experience players battled hard to get the advantage in this game and in the first half the deadlock couldn’t be broken. Within five minutes of the restart Mossley took the lead when the ball was crashed into the net past the diving Antrim goalkeeper. Play was end to end with chances being missed at both ends until the 62nd minute when Antrim’s Lyle Kane made the space in the circle to drive the ball into the net for the equaliser and the game ended with a fair share of the points for both teams who are looking forward to the return game at Mossley in a few weeks. Team thanks go to Nial Black and the Mossley umpire for their efficient handling of this game. This week the Seconds travel to play Bangor Thirds on Friday evening in their next league match.
ANTRIM THIRDS 5 – 2 BALLYMENA SECONDS
Antrim Thirds had near neighbours Ballymena Seconds as their opponents on Saturday at the Paddy Marks Arena in a Junior League match. Ballymena took the lead in the second minute when a long ball sailed unchallenged past at least three Antrim defenders to an unmarked forward who had the time and space to sweep it past the helpless goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill into the net. Then in the fifth minute Antrim’s Nathan Murdock broke forward from just inside the half way line to work the ball forward past several defenders into the circle to see his shot deflect off the keeper’s pads to the right where the onrushing Chris Roe returned it back into the net to score a sweet equaliser. Play was scrappy as both teams struggled to dominate but it was Antrim who got the breakthrough in the 22nd minute when Murdock forced the ball home from a mid circle position after receiving a good pass from Bryan Creighton to give his team the 2-1 lead. Antrim pressed again and in the 26th minute Roe was on hand again to crash the ball into the net for the 3-1 lead. Antrim had the ball in the net again but the umpire ruled that the shot had been made from outside the circle as half time arrived. As the second half progressed the Ballymena team began to tire and Antrim slowly took control but were complicating things for themselves by holding on to the ball far too long and were getting caught in possession time after time. A Ballymena forward had a great chance in the 45th minute but it came to nothing when his pass to an unmarked team mate went astray. Then in a 58th minute attack the ball from Mark Kingston’s fierce shot rebounded off the Ballymena keeper’s pads and fell into the path of Creighton who wasted no time in slamming it back into the net under the diving keeper for Antrim’s fourth goal. From a rare Ballymena attack goalkeeper O’Neill saved the day when he confidently kicked the ball clear in the 61st minute. The ball was quickly played forward into the Ballymena circle to Roe who had the time and space to lay it off for Creighton to sweep it into the net for goal number five. Then in the final minute the ball from a Ballymena attack was played into the goalmouth where a forward nipped in to score their second goal at the right hand post past the startled defenders. Team thanks go to Antrim’s Stuart Kernaghan and Ballymena’s lady umpire for their expert handling of the game. This week the team make the long journey to Donegal to play Raphoe Thirds in their next league match
Thirds Squad :- C O’Neill, P Whiteside, M Jefferies, J Kernaghan, M Kingston, J Kirkpatrick, J Lavery, K Wilson, C Roe, B Creighton, N Murdock, L Kane, S Gammon and A Heatley.
ANTRIM GRAMMAR SCHOOL v METHODIST COLLEGE
This Wednesday 27th February Antrim Grammar School will play Methodist College in the quarter final of the prestigious Ulster Schoolboys Burney Hockey Cup. The match will be played on the new astro pitch at Parkhall Integrated College starting at 3.30pm. Antrim beat Lurgan College 1-0 in the first round and beat the much fancied Kilkeel High School 3-2 in the second round. All those interested are asked to come along and support this up and coming young team in their bid to reach the semi final of this competition for the very first time.