SAINTFIELD 0 – 6 ANTRIM
Antrim travelled to Co Down to play Saintfield in their next league match on Saturday. Surprisingly the playing pitch was in good condition despite the incessant rain and the flooded roads encountered on the way to the game. Relegated from the Premier League last season, Antrim Firsts was playing Saintfield for the first time in many years. Straight from the hit off, an Antrim attack down the right allowed the skilful Dean Wilson to work the ball into the circle but his pass across the goalmouth was missed by the onrushing Curtis Murray and it sailed harmlessly wide. The hit out was intercepted and this time Johnny McMeekin’s right wing cross was missed by all the onrushing forwards. Sammy Clyde won a long corner and the cross from Nial Black was deflected for another long corner. Jason Roe worked the ball into the circle but his stick was chopped to win Antrim their first penalty corner of the game in the 4th minute. Chris Wilson’s strike was well saved by the Saintfield goalkeeper and the ball was cleared away. This set the pattern for the rest of the game and it soon became obvious that Antrim was the more skilful fitter team. Saintfield won a long corner in the 5th minute but the ball was cleared upfield by Alan Mullan and played into the goalmouth and from the ensuing scramble Antrim was awarded a penalty stroke. Up stepped Dean Wilson but his waist high effort was easily palmed away by the goalkeeper. A minute later another right wing Chris Wilson cross into the goalmouth sailed past the onrushing Alex McBride to go harmlessly wide. Then in the 9th minute Antrim broke the deadlock when Curtis Murray broke into the circle from the right to see his goal bound shot get the slightest deflection off Chris Wilson’s stick into the net to give Antrim the deserved 1-0 lead. Antrim attacked at will but most of their attempts were blocked by the Saintfield goalkeeper who made save after save to keep his team in the game but in the 17th minute Dean Wilson latched on to the rebounding ball from a penalty corner shot to slam it back into the net for the 2-0 lead. The Antrim pressure continued but they were thwarted time after time by the excellent Saintfield goalkeeper or players firing the ball wide time after time when well placed. The Antrim defenders wanted to get into the action and in a 25th minute attack Sammy Clyde worked the ball into the circle from the left to see his shot somehow deceive the goalkeeper and end up in the back of the net for his team’s third goal. Saintfield won their first penalty corner in the 31st minute and goalkeeper Andy Heatley made his first save of the game. The ball rebounded off his pads high into the air and the umpire ruled it a dangerous clearance and awarded another penalty corner. This time the ball was driven past the post and the danger was averted. At the other end Roe fired wide again and in the last minute of the half a quick Den Wilson free allowed McMeekin to work the ball into the circle to find the time and space to drive the ball into the net for the 4-0 lead. Antrim won a penalty corner one minute after the restart but the home goalkeeper made three great saves in succession to prevent another goal being scored. From another penalty in the 39th minute a McMeekin drag flick rebounded off the goalkeeper and Chris Wilson reacted quickest to bat the ball back into the net for goal number five and despite strong protests from the home goalkeeper the goal stood. As the game progressed the home goalkeeper made save after save to stop an avalanche of goals from the rampant Antrim forwards who with a little thought and variation in their play would have been much more successful. Although encamped in the Saintfield circle for most of the last quarter it took a strong Dean Wilson 64th minute penalty corner shot to score Antrim’s sixth and final goal of this very one sided match. Sincere thanks to Club Umpires Stuart Campbell and Mark Scott for their efficient and fair handling of this game in very difficult overhead conditions. This week Antrim host near neighbours Parkview in their next league match with a 1pm start at the Paddy Marks Arena.
Antrim Squad :- A Heatley, A Mullan, N Black, J McMeekin, S Clyde, J Roe, D Wilson, C Wilson, R McCrea, A McBride, C Murray, S Gammon and J Kirkpatrick
ANTRIM SECONDS 2 – 2 ANNADALE FOURTHS
Antrim Seconds took on old rivals Annadale Fourths at the Forum on Saturday with team captain Lyle Kane having his sights set on gaining all three points. Antrim won the toss and attacked from the off with Neil McCullough in the heart of mid field creating plenty of room with his second to none ball distribution. Chris Roe, Lyle Kane and Mark Kingston were certainly putting effort into working the ball into the opposition's circle but they were unable to capitalise on their given opportunities. Annadale looked extremely dangerous on the counter with Rory Scott, their midfield play maker, beating two and three players with ease time after time. The Antrim defence, Robbie and Mattie Watt with their blistering pace coupled with the silky skills of duo, Jamie Kernaghan and David Mailey, meant that the opposition would have to be at their best in order to score. Dave Mailey did a great job organising the team at the back with young goalkeeper Cameron O'Neill kicking and sweeping any loose balls away to safety. In the 14th minute after a penetrating attack, the Antrim captain fired a fierce shot over the cross bar. Nathan Murdoch and Kingston were putting in some meaty (but fair) tackles which seemed to disrupt the visitors. Antrim took the lead in the 16th minute when Neil McCullough pounced on the ball to fire it back into the net after Kane's shot had ricocheted off the post. In the second quarter, Annadale scored from a penalty corner which was awarded less than two minutes in. The youngsters Mark Patterson, Josh Irwin and Chris Roe were determined to retake the lead. Antrim appeared to be in total control but that final ball was frustratingly always either blocked or just out of reach of a forwards stick. Annadale on the counter were still extremely dangerous and only decent marking and some strong tackles stopped them from taking their lead. Mailey's hit outs from the back were exceptional with pinpoint accuracy and power, bamboozling the Annadale front line and mid field who had set up what they believed was an impenetrable high press. Just before half-time, Antrim went 2-1 up after a short corner award. The slipped ball from the top of the circle was cleverly deflected in by predator Kane who has been practising this move since the start of the season. In the second half the first ten minutes was littered were mistakes by both teams. The ball was given away cheaply time and time again and the quick, sharp, accurate passing was forgotten by everyone with the only exception being Mailey. Again he organised the defence, implored his players to keep moving, and played the ball out from the back. Kyle Wilson got stuck in and didn't hesitate to pass the ball rather than get caught in possession. Young Josh Irwin was picking the ball up and beating his opposite number for skill and pace before playing the simple intelligent pass to a team-mate. O'Neill again cleared anything that came into the Antrim circle and by the end of the third quarter, both teams were back playing hockey of a decent standard and putting together some decent passing moves. A few minutes into the (fourth and last) quarter, Antrim should have scored again when Kane skipped past two Annadale players to release Roe who just couldn't connect with the ball to produce a decent strike. Kane then went close with Drew Larmour, the Annadale keeper, blocking two decent strikes from the Antrim captain. Antrim then had a player sin binned for dissent, initially given a green card but persisting until he was given a yellow card which in the end left a gap in the home defence. The Annadale team saw their chance, surged forward and a from neat bit of dribbling skill and then a sweet reverse stick strike saw the ball fly into the bottom left hand corner giving the unsighted O'Neill absolutely no chance to make a save. Despite a Herculean effort by both teams the score finished 2-2. A great game of hockey played in a very competitive but sporting manner. Thanks to Antrim's Tommy Monahan and Annandale's Oliver Brown who umpired fairly and professionally. Antrim's Man of the M second to none. atch award was shared between David Mailey and Lyle Kane who couldn't have given any more on the day. The Seconds have no game this week but the Thirds are at home to Instonians Fourths with a 4pm start.
Seconds Squad - C O'Neill, M Kingston, N McCullough, D Mailey, R Watt, M Watt, L Kane, J Kernaghan, M Patterson, K Wilson, N Murdoch, C Roe and J Irwin