It’s North v South but locals win their first Premier points

South Antrim have got their first win of their Ulster Premier League debut season under their belt. US1510-518cd
South Antrim have got their first win of their Ulster Premier League debut season under their belt. US1510-518cd

South Antrim smashed five past North Down on Saturday as they claimed their first Ulster Premier League points.

South, having lost their first two games of the campaign in closely contested games, were keen to get back to winning ways and did so with this 5-3 win.

This was evident in the way South started the game, putting North Down under pressure and forcing mistakes.

The high tempo South were playing at soon paid off when some neat skill down the right led to a short corner being awarded. South have struggled recently with short corners, however, Adam Glass stepped up and made no mistake with this one, flicking the ball expertly into the bottom corner.

South continued their dominance and soon after, the ball was played to Chris Henry at the top of the circle. Having beat two men with an arcing turn, Chris slotted the ball past the keeper, for Paul Maguire to get the telling touch.

After this goal, North Down grew into the game and won several short corners which were well defended by the South short corner team, with keeper Mark Hutchinson shining.

Soon after, North Down missed a clear cut opportunity when, after a rebound fell to their forward in front of goal, he narrowly missed the target from six yards out under pressure from the keeper.

The North pressure finally told, though, when some sloppy defending in the South circle led to a short corner and this time Shepherd made no mistake.

This seemed to wake the Lisburn side up and just before half time, South made it 3-1 after some strong play on the right ended with Mark Gray crashing a ball in for a deft deflection from Chris Henry to convert.

After half-time, North Down came out with a more physical approach and paid the price with several players sent to the sin bin.

However, South were unable to capitalise on the numerical advantage as they picked up several cards of their own for breaking down play and stick tackles in their haste.

With North chasing the game, spaces began to open up for South and after some direct running from Nathan Gamble, his partner Matthew Getty found himself at the top of the circle in space and dispatched the ball with ease.

Shepherd made it 4-2 with another penalty corner and they really made their hosts sweat when they broke down the right and from a tight angle managed to hammer the ball in off the far post to make it 4-3.

Having lost the previous two games in the last 10 minutes, the South side must have been worried that this pattern was going to continue but this was not to be the case. South managed to win a short corner with five minutes to go and after a great double save, the ball fell kindly to Chris Henry who hammered into the net and give the Lisburn side their first points in the Premier League.

This young South side can look forward to a break this weekend, having been given a bye through the first round of the Irish Senior Cup.