South Antrim 1
South Antrim’s penultimate game of the season took place last weekend with an away fixture to league leaders Instonians.
Needing points to ease relegation fears the Lisburn men started brightly.
Though even this could not prevent an early Inst goal, the home team advanced up the right side, getting in behind the South defence before faking a shot and passing to the back post for a simple tap in.
South fell into the same trap soon after, Inst drew them out by sitting back before stealing the ball and countering quickly, passing around the South defence for an easy back post tap in.
Now with nothing to lose, the men in black and red started playing with a bit more flair, Adam Glass is particular on the right of midfield dribbled past players with ease but the final ball into the Inst circle was lacking and numerous attacks fell short as the forwards ran out of options.
Inst recognised South’s increased threat and so started a full press to try and suffocate South’s passing options at the back.
Young schoolboy Jack Moore was promoted into the team for just this situation, using his long aerial ball to bypass Inst’s press and send forwards Darren Hutchinson and Chris Henry through.
On one such occasion, Chris Henry found the foot of a retreating Inst defender to win South a short corner.
James Brown’s drag flick was charged down but fell to him again and he fired the ball into the danger area in front of the keeper’s pads, after a few moments of pinball, Inst cleared their lines. Just before the half ended, Inst won their own short corner and netted a drag flick to make it 3-0.
After the interval, South continued playing at a high pace and were rewarded when Ward Phillips ran up the left wing, played a pass infield to the edge of the circle to John Semple who rolled his man and swept a reverse cross towards the flick spot that was met at full stretch by a diving Chris Henry to deflect home.
The game became a battle of the midfield, with neither side getting clear cut chances. Inst again showed their experience by slowing the game down and overloading key areas to gain the upper hand, soon finding the exposed foot of an overzealous defender diving in. Inst again opted for a drag flick, beating both the keeper and the post man to score again.
South kept to their game plan and restricted Inst’s chances. However, Inst got a fifth at the death in a similar fashion to their first two.
South played good hockey and matched the league leaders for long periods, but unfortunately, as is the story so often this season, they leave with nothing despite a good display.
They face Belfast Harlequins in their final league game at home (3pm) at Friends’ School this Saturday. Harlequins, incidentally, are the only team to defeat Instonians this season.
Elsewhere, the 3rds defeated Kilkeel 3rds 4-1 away to keep pressure on Junior 4 leaders Annadale, a George Glass double as well as a goal apiece for Stephen Hood and Adam Glass gave them the win. The 4ths were the only other team in action last weekend, they lost 7-1 away to Portadown 3rds in Junior 5, Stuart Glenn got South’s goal.
South Ladies 3rds produced a gusty performance against the league leaders, Portadown, but experience showed in the end.
South came under immense pressure from the start but Courtney Mills in nets was showing what a fine season she is having. South has a number of chances but failed to convert.
The second half was a completely different affair as Portadown converted a short corner, before scoring twice more.
The South defence held firm for a time but Portadown finished from a close angle to show ago why they are top of the league.
Well done to Danielle Heasley for player of the match and thanks to William Redpath Jnr for umpiring.