SOUTH ANTRIM SECONDS 2 NICS THIRDS 0
SOUTH Seconds had Goalkeeper Chris Alexander to thank for the team taking full points as they continued their return to form at Stormont on Saturday.
A drab opening period had a lot by way of industry and effort from both sides but the conditions did little to encourage any quality with both defences on top. With South defending well they opened the scoring with virtually the first opportunity of the game when Mark Conn broke into the circle on the right hand side only to see his shot well saved. The resulting break fell to Stewart Bittle outside the circle who switched the ball to his fellow forward, Craig Campbell, inside the circle who swept home into the empty net. With Mark Campbell competing well at Right Back and organizing the away defence well the Lisburn men were able to see out the first half with little discomfort.
In the second half the home team changed their approach and were rewarded with a number of short corners as South began to waver. Unfortunately in the absence of their regular sweeper South struggled to relieve the pressure and clear their lines effectively. As the game began to turn and with momentum firmly on the side of Service, Chris Alexander was called upon on a number of occasions to keep the away team in the lead. Firstly after a melee in the circle he saved well with his feet from close range, he then saved another shot from the edge of the circle and while prone trying to recover, he managed to claw away a further effort which had been flicked over him by an attacker. Bearing in mind that these saves had all been made in the space of around 15 seconds it made it even more remarkable that South had stayed ahead. Despite further efforts on goal and good chances (including a goal-line clearance from Andy Hanley) to level the scores the Junior 2 strugglers could not get an equalizer and they were duly punished when Paddy Cochrane broke up the field and squared the ball to Craig Campbell to settle the game in the final minute, with an easy back post finish.
While South may not have been at their best on Saturday the spirit shown in the second half to stay ahead and the determination and willingness to compete from such a young side was encouraging to see, all the more so that they were rewarded with a fine victory at a notoriously difficult venue. In no small part though they were indebted to their goalkeeper who turned in a great performance throughout and deservedly received the man of the match award. Thanks once again to George Redpath for travelling to umpire.