MOSSLEY FOURTHS 4 – 2 ANTRIM SECONDS
Antrim Seconds travelled to the Glade to play Mossley Fourths in the second round of the Junior Shield on Saturday. Hopes were high that they could repeat the win they had against this tough Mossley team in the league a couple of weeks ago. Antrim started strongly and inside two minutes they got off to a dream start when a cross from the right found the unmarked Steven Gammon who blasted the ball into the net to give his team the 1-0 lead. But that lead was short lived when in the fourth minute from a Mossley attack down the left the ball, from the half hit cross bounced across the circle was missed by two Antrim defenders and Robert Tyrrell gratefully swept it into the net past the helpless goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill, to level the scores. There was little between the teams as they battled for supremacy with play switching from end to end and both goalkeepers in regular action. McMeekin, Stu Kernaghan and Ricky McClintock were the strong backbone of the Antrim team and along with goalkeeper O’Neill stoutly defended against this strong home team. Mossley won a disputed penalty corner in the 16th minute and another on a minute later from which the ball was switched left and slammed into the net by Joshua Kerr to give his team the lead. Antrim won a penalty corner in the 23rd minute when from Ethan Angell strong shot the ball was cleared away dangerously by the goalkeeper but he made amends when he palmed McMeekin’s hard drag flick away to safety. Mossley attacked from the restart and goalkeeper O’Neill was in early action making a strong save from an unmarked forward. The homesters slowly took control and pushed the Antrim team deeper and deeper into defensive and as the game progressed they seemed content to wait for the rare chance of making a quick break through They won a penalty corner in the 41th minute but the Mossley goalkeeper saved McMeekin’s strong shot and the ball was cleared away. The poor passing and tackling of the Antrim team was making things easier for the homesters. A 50th minute Mossley penalty corner shot was well saved by goalkeeper O’Neill. The ball was quickly cleared upfield into the Mossley circle but the onrushing Adam Pearce fired it past the post when well placed. McClintock was fouled in the circle in the 52nd minute but the penalty corner switch was intercepted and the ball cleared away. O’Neill saved another penalty corner shot in Mossley’s next attack and saved again from the shot off the rebound. The Mossley pressure was on and they won several penalty corners in a row but every time the ball was somehow cleared away. Antrim were defending in numbers and all of their players seemed content to stay in their own half. Antrim won a penalty corner in the 65th minute and McMeekin slammed the ball against the backboards to level the scores again. Then with extra time looming the Mossley team sparked into life and won a penalty corner in the 68th minute when the ball hit an Antrim defenders foot. From the perfect corner routine Gavin Weir slammed the ball into the net to regain his team’s lead and from the hit off the ball was quickly won and played across the Antrim circle where Johnny Wray fired it under the diving O’Neill to clinch the 4-2 win for Mossley.
Antrim Seconds Squad - C O’Neill, M Watt, N Murdock, J McMeekin, S Kernaghan, J Kirkpatrick, S Gammon, M Kingston, R McClintock, E Angell, R Watt, S Gammon and A Pearce.
CIVIL SERVICE FOURTHS 6 – ANTRIM THIRDS 5
After last week’s confidence boosting win at Ballymena, Antrim Thirds were flying high as they travelled to Stormont to play Civil Service Fourths in the quarter final of the Minor Cup on Saturday. Both teams fought for supremacy for the first quarter of this game but it wasn’t until the 25th minute that Antrim were able to break the deadlock. A great right wing cross from Brian Creighton found the unmarked Chris Wilson and he made no mistake by blasting the ball past the diving goalkeeper to give Antrim the 1-0 lead which they held on to until half time. The second half got under way and soon Service piled on the pressure and it was no surprise when they scored in the 50th minute to level things up again. But Antrim immediately bounced back and a great attacking move was finished off when the up and coming Josh Lavery pounced to skilfully scoop the ball into the net and give Antrim back the lead. Play was end to end but it was the home team who looked the more dangerous and in the 60th minute they scored again to level the game once more at 2-2. But Antrim were far from finished and stormed forward on the attack to win a penalty corner from which the evergreen Paul Whiteside stepped up to blast the ball into the corner of the goal to give his team the 3-2 lead in the 64th minute. Service didn’t give up and they threw everything into attack and managed to break through the resolute Antrim defence to score from a flowing attacking move giving the Antrim goalkeeper no chance. The game was now tied 3-3 with only minutes remaining. Both teams fought for what would surely be the winning goal and alas it was Service who scored with only two minutes remaining to give them the 4-3 lead. This could have finished off lesser teams but the Antrim boys quite simply refused to give up and with the clock running down they threw everything into one last attack. A strong left wing run and fantastic cross from Tommy Monaghan found Creighton unmarked in the circle and with everyone else holding their breath he made no mistake by blasting the ball into the net to level the game at 4-4 and send to game into a penalty shootout. Antrim performed admirably in the shootout but were ultimately undone by the Service goalkeeper whose quick feet thwarted their goal-bound shots and the home team ran out as 2-1 winners to progress into the semi-final of the Minor Cup. This was a great game of hockey with both teams playing in the spirit of fair but robust competition. All of the Antrim team played well but the strong tackling of young Matthew Jeffries, the excellent distribution by Jamie Kernaghan and the slick attacking play of Josh Lavery stood out as positives on the day. Thanks go to Antrim’s Niall Black who umpired this game with fairness and maturity. This has been a reasonably good season for Antrim Thirds with great wins away from home against Raphoe, Bangor and Ballymena. These were cancelled out with the poor run of results in January when they lost five in a row against similarly placed teams. This effectively put paid to any ideas of promotion. However Antrim Thirds continued to compete and finished the season well with four wins from their last five league games to finish a respectable fourth in Junior League 5. Although results are part of the story the development of the young players on the team is the more important part. This year has seen the emergence of Andrew Clarke, Kyle Wilson, Matthew Jeffries, Henry Roberts, Josh Lavery and Mark Patterson as regulars on the team and all played well against strong and more experienced opposition. There is no doubt that all these young players will play an important part in Antrim Hockey Club’s future. Antrim Captain Stuart Campbell thanked all the players who have shown such commitment and enthusiasm throughout the season. Club thanks also go to the dedication of team Captain Stuart Campbell who battled hard and successfully in the unenviable task of having to find players week after week throughout the season.
Thirds Squad.:- A. Heatley. S. Campbell, P Whiteside, M. Kane, M. Jeffries, C. Wilson, T. Monaghan, J. Kernaghan, C. Roe, B. Creighton, J. Laverty.