Mens Thirds Cliffhanger in Junior Shield

By Sam Pyper

After the snow, the men’s thirds 2nd round Junior Shield tie against league winners Bangor thirds was played last night at Bangor Grammar School. Keen to defend their title after a poor end to the league, North Down started the brighter and controlled the first 20 minutes. A good one-two link up between Mark Shannon and Sam Pyper cut the hosts wide open, Shannon rounded the keeper to finish with the last defender clearing just an inch too late. Andy Shannon then came close in front of goal but however miscued. Bangor got back in it with a short corner after North Down failed to clear their lines after a fine save from Lee Brown who by this point had already made several top class saves and was on fine form. At half time it was all square.

In the second half North Down failed to make their mark and stamp their authority on the match. The experienced Bangor team controlled possession and then went in front converting one of several chances. Had it not been for Brown in goals, the visitors could have found themselves 2 or 3 behind but with 5 minutes left on the clock they fought back with spirit with every player in the squad hunting in packs to retrieve possession to heap the pressure on Bangor’s circle. With less than a minute to go, they got their breakthrough as Mark Shannon latched onto a loose ball to nip it over the advancing keeper to equalise the game at 2-2 and force extra time and the silver goal rule.
The work rate for North Down showed as several players suffered from cramp but the squad spirit prevailed as they saw out a first half which Bangor dominated. In the second half young Adam Tate showed his pace and broke free on the right wing placing the perfect square ball to Paul Revill who shot agonizingly wide. For the remainder of extra time North Down had their backs to the wall and Bangor had three successive short corners but the defence had the ever committed Andy Walls who deflected each strike and the advancing Brown cleaned up in goal. The whistle blew sending the game to a penalty strokes shootout.

THE SHOOTOUT – BLOW BY BLOW!
Bangor up first – scored
Nicholson – misses – keeper saves – one down
Bangor – saved by Brown
Mockford after confirming with the keeper that it was top corner bound – scores top corner – all square
Bangor – saved by Brown
Revill – scores – one up
Bangor – hits the post
McMillan – keeper saves -one up
Bangor – scores – all square
Pyper – misses – finishes all square
Goes to sudden death
M Shannon – misses
Bangor – saved by Brown
Mockford – scores top corner – one up
Bangor – Brown saves again and North Down thirds progress to the next round!

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