South Antrim’s second group match of the Kirk Cup was at home against opponents, Newry Olympic HC.
There was a sense of apprehension between the two sides as it had been a number of years since they last clashed.
South Antrim were first out of the blocks as the whistle blew, with a controlling play style and majority of possession.
It was Adam Glass with the first effort of the game, following a strong tackle from Ward Phillips who then fed Adam in behind the Newry defensive line, a last ditch piece of defending forced Glass to fire a reverse wide of the upright.
South Antrim had numerous chances very early on following this positive start but with some solid defending from the away side the score line was kept level.
Newry soon found their feet and the game began to open up with both sides creating chances but with no conversion. The pressure from Newry’s attack soon told as they were awarded a penalty corner, which was well saved.
Approaching half time, with South Antrim in possession and control, the frustration began to build for the opposition. Paul Maguire body checked on a break away and a yellow card ensued.
With this man advantage South Antrim stepped up the pressure further and the penalty corner count began to rise. The home side had three short corners in a short space of time, but for the sharp corner defence from Newry, South were unable to convert.
On the restart after the half, South Antrim came out strong with bags of energy and looked fired up.
Newry were pinned back in their own 25 as South worked the ball from side to side looking for an opening.
Chances saw Chris Henry and James Brown both have the ball picked off the line, much to the dismay of the capacity crowd.
The final ten minutes saw a step up again in the ball pace and the physical fitness of the Lisburn side began to tell as they continuously found space in the midfield area, with the likes of Lee Marshall and Ward Phillips able to exploit and drive into the space creating chances.
South again asked questions of the Newry goalkeeper, who was on fine form, with a steal off a Newry midfielder, Nathan Gamble then played in Matthew Getty rolled the keeper but his result shot on goal was tame, and was cleared just inches from the line by a defender at full stretch.
Soon South won a penalty corner and following an Adam Glass effort, a scramble on the goal line saw the umpire award a penalty flick, however upon consultation with the other official, it was reduced to a penalty corner.
In the dying seconds of the game, during another South Antrim attack, Newry fouled the home team. Due to ill discipline from Newry, the foul was upgraded to a penalty corner as the final whistle blew.
Chris Redpath played the ball from the top of the circle towards Chris Henry who, with a clever deflection, found the backboard and secured the three points for South Antrim in a much-deserved victory.
South Antrim are due to play Instonians HC in their third group match at Shaw’s Bridge this Saturday.
South Fifths win in the west
South Antrims 5ths 2 Derg Valley 1sts 0
South Fifths, having gained promotion last year to junior 5, opened their League Cup campaign with an away trip to Derg Valley 1sts in Castlederg.
South started the match strongly and soon had Derg Valley on the defensive. Newcomers Stewart and Kennedy settled in well and provided options for South to move the ball around the pitch.
Young Adam Glass in centre midfield was controlling the game and leading the attack well, however, despite numerous chances, South couldn’t convert.
On the stroke of half time, South won their third short corner, Glass pushed the ball out to Wilson whom calmly stopped the ball before blasting it into the back of the net to go in one up at half time.
The second half saw Derg Valley press hard and at one stage, they had the ball in the back of the net, but was ruled out for feet in the build up.
A further ten minutes in, South conceded a short the shot went wide. Turning defence into attach, Wallace quickly retrieved the ball and played a long pass to Wilson on the half way line with a quick hit out.
Wilson gave a pass to Kennedy who beat one player and return the ball to Wilson whose reverse stock shot found the roof of the net in spectacular fashion.
Derg Valley continued to press in the closing stages but a well marshalled defence South saw out the game to win 2-0.