Heavy overnight frost left the Forum synthetic pitch frozen solid forcing the postponement of Antrim Firsts game against Armagh and Antrim Thirds game against South Antrim Fourths on Saturday. However the Seconds match did go ahead and they travelled to the Aurora Leisure Centre to face old rivals Bangor Fourths. Captain Lyle Kane ensured the team went through a rigorous warm-up before the standard pre-match passing and shooting drills. Goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill looked sharp and with the speed and accuracy at a decent level Kane looked more than happy with the way things were shaping up. Antrim won the toss and opted to take the push back so the home team decided to change ends to leave the visitors were facing into the very low sun. Antrim looked dangerous right from the start with Josh Irwin, Adam Pearce, Mark Patterson and Josh Lavery moving the ball quickly and doing lots of work off the ball to provide plenty of passing options. Antrim created a few half chances in the opening minutes but a combination of some well timed tackles and some superb saves by the Bangor net minder stopped them from taking the lead. At the back of Antrim’s defence Jack Kirkpatrick, Nathan Murdoch, the Watt brothers, Robbie and Matthew, were marking tightly and breaking up Bangor’s attacks with some strong physical tackles. The first quarter finished 0-0 with Lyle Kane imploring his team to up their already intense high work rate. The second quarter was end to end with Antrim looking the more likely to score. Tommy Monahan, Kirkpatrick, Matty Watt and the solid Murdoch were getting the ball out to their hard working mid fielders. The pacy Ethan Angell, Adam Pearce, Robbie Watt and Jack Morrison were leaving their markers in a cloud of dust. The home team won a couple of corners but their shots were either blocked or saved goalkeeper O’Neill who was on hand to kick the ball clear. Antrim’s Mark Patterson was the mid field maestro with his close control and vision allowing him time and space to beat player after player to lay off perfect passes. Antrim’s only Achilles heel seemed to be their inability to completely control the ball from their own hit outs that went astray or were being intercepted Bangor pressed high but Kirkpatrick was hitting hard accurate passes out to his own players who unfortunately were miss-controlling the ball far too many times. Patterson and Pearce created a few more decent chances before the break but no one could get on the end of some gilt-edged opportunities that came their way. Again the home keeper pulled off a couple of top-drawer saves, one of which was an amazing dive to divert Pearce’s goal-bound shot just wide of the post. After the break the play was end to end with the Antrim defence holding firm. Against the run of play Bangor swept down the pitch and this time it was the turn of keeper O’Neill, who somehow brilliantly dived low to his right to save the day. Eventually, in the 45th minute, Antrim’s efforts were rewarded when Kane scored after some great build up play between Tommy Monahan, Pearce, and Angell. Bangor surged back but this young Antrim side defended in numbers with every player doing whatever it took to hold on to the lead. O’Neill along with Kirkpatrick and Murdoch in defence, were disciplined and well organised and helped their team to hold on to their lead until the end of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter it was obvious that the home team had decided it was all or nothing and threw everything, including the kitchen sink, into attack. This led to quite a few physical but fair personal battles right across the pitch. Gammon, Pearce, Kane, Patterson and Lavery were covering every inch of ground pressing the home team and tracking back when possession was lost. O’Neill saved well from a mid circle snap shot after a great through ball found an unmarked Bangor attacker. Then in the 65th minute Kane got his, and Antrim’s second goal to finish off after another sweeping move through Patterson, Josh Lavery, Robbie Watt and Josh Irwin. Bangor fought back but Antrim was happy to keep possession and win clever free hits when put under pressure to hold on to clinch this 2-0 victory. A great performance from a young team that was well organised with a captain who led from the front with a squad willing to put in plenty of hard work. Thanks to Stephen Gammon, Josh Irwin and the Bangor umpire who all officiated in a fair and professional manner. Man of the match was Lyle Kane who left it all on the pitch and was rewarded with a brace for his team and surely now must have earned a call up to add a bit of punch to the First team forward line. This week the team will play league leaders Lisnagarvey 5ths at home in what will be a much harder test with a 230pm start, seeking revenge for their earlier in the season heavy defeat.
Seconds Squad :- S Gammon, M Patterson, A Pearce, J Lavery, J Kirkpatrick, R Watt, M Watt, T Monahan, N Murdoch, C O’Neill, L Kane, J Irwin and E Angell
The Firsts have a rearranged league game against the PSNI on Saturday at the Paddy Marks Arena with a 1pm start and the Thirds travel to Lisburn to play South Antrim 5ths in their next league match