South Antrim 2nds 1
Cookstown 2nds 1
South Antrim 2nds lined up against a very strong Cookstown team last weekend in a keenly contested match.
Full of confidence, South Antrim continued to impress with fast and fluid counter attacks, starting quickly and putting the Cookstown backline under immediate pressure.
The midfield quickly got on top, exchanging quick passes to work their way up the pitch, with only the final ball letting them down.
A succession of short corners came to nothing with home goalkeeper Ian Glass making a few decent stops at the other end from the odd foray into the South Antrim final third. The breakthrough nearly came after a superb aerial ball from Jack Moore set Neil Wilson through one-on-one with the keeper.
After taking it around him, a reverse from an ever narrowing angle meant a lucky escape for Cookstown.
A yellow card for inappropriate language towards the umpires meant the visitors had to play a spell with 10 men, however, they defended resolutely until being restored to their full compliment of men.
The second half saw a tactical switch from Cookstown, putting the midfielders and defenders of South Antrim under more pressure, until an error allowed the Lisburn team to take the lead. As the goalkeeper retrieved a ball for a visiting team hit out, Cyril Varghese read a poor pass along the backline, tackled his opposing centre back and shot into an unguarded goal to give South Antrim a 1-0 lead.
As the game wore on the pattern quickly emerged of periods of possession from Cookstown, with good build up play going unrewarded in the final third, leading to quick counterattacks by the energetic midfield of South Antrim.
Cookstown finally got their reward when a short corner was converted midway through the half and this was the beginning of a ten minute spell that nearly saw the mid Ulster side take the lead on a couple of opportunities.
Cyril Varghese had an important role in clearing a top corner bound effort off the line following a penalty corner, and they nearly had a penalty stroke, until a discussion between the two umpires led to a reversal and an award of another short corner.
In a fractious finale to the match, temperatures ran high and both teams had chances to win.
Ultimately, a high quality match with shared spoils was about fair on both sides, and for South Antrim, the point against a very good Cookstown team meant a good day at the office. Thanks to Jonny Taylor and Willy Redpath for umpiring.