LISNAGARVEY won themselves another precious three league points with a rather laboured 3-1 win over Belfast Harlequins at Comber Road.
The victory keeps them in contact with Banbridge and Instonians who also won their games at the weekend.
With just five league remaining in the Premier programme, it looks like the title will be fought out right until the last match with Garvey still to play Banbridge and also have three matches in hand over second placed Instonians.
Timmy Cockram, playing his last game before his wedding had a second minute raid on the Harlequins defence before the visitors replied with a very fast attack which saw their resulting shot go narrowly past the post in the third minute.
Garvey captain, Jonny Bell joined in a good Garvey attack in the fourth minute but again saw effort on goal also go past the upright as his team tried hard to create decent scoring openings.
The match was somewhat frantic during the first quarter with few telling passes on view but Daniel Buser forced Garvey,s first penalty corner in the 11th minute and Timmy Cockram found the net; the ball entering the net off Harlequins keeper Ian Kelly.
A minute later, Garvey doubled their tally with a second goal; Glen Whitten made the running and his strong reverse stick was met by Timmy Cockram who only had to guide the ball into an empty net.
Greg Thompson had a goal disallowed in the 19th minute for reasons unknown while John Tormey was in action for the first time with a timely smothering save but in the 27th minute the ball got lodged in his shirt and after a false start, Harlequins scored from their second penalty corner even if the ball went into the net off defender Steven Arbuthnot and counted as an own goal.
Daniel Buser, at the heart of everything Garvey creates lately and surely heading for recognition showed his determination to force Garvey’s second penalty corner in the 32nd minute but it was completely wasted as the ball was not stopped at the edge of the circle.
However, they did have another set piece chance in the last minute of the half which keeper Kelly dealt with more than competently.
Harlequins started the second half at pace and had a half chance in the 36th minute before Andy Forrest, set up by Buser, put a great chance past the post and in the 39th minute Glen Whitten saw his shot cannon off the upright with Kelly totally beaten.
Garvey were now well on top as the visitors began to wilt under pressure and forced a fourth penalty corner but again Kelly was equal to the Cockram effort.
The pressure told in the 48th minute when after much indecision in the Harlequins defence, Mark Raphael nipped in to slot the ball into the net to end any more confusion and take Garvey into a 3-1 lead with just over 20 minutes remaining.
Andy Forrest could have put the game to bed in the 54th minute but again the ball rebounded off the post after a good reverse shot and after Kelly had saved Garvey’s fifth penalty corner, Timmy Cockram saw yet another shot hit the post and run away to safety.
Apart from a well timed tackle by Jonny Bell on the edge of his circle, Garvey were totally in control and forced a sixth set piece in the 59th minute but again Kelly saved his team with another good block.
The last 10 minutes saw Garvey punish the Harlequins defence and Stuart McNiece should have extended the lead but his shot was off target and at the final whistle he home side had to be content with the hard earned 3-1 advantage but must regret their many missed chances.
Garvey’s next game is tomorrow against Civil Service at Stormont and should bring another three points but they struggled to win the last encounter by two goals to one back in October.
A big improvement will be required in their finishing powers if another crucial win in the very open Premier League is to be secured.