The men’s seconds travelled to Havelock Park on Saturday to take on a struggling Banbridge 2nd XI who had picked up 7 points so far this season, the same as North Down. Both teams knew this was a massive game and a win for either side could potentially result in a mid table position.
North Down travelled with a strong 13 with Mark Linter and Rich Willis returning to a solid back four. There were long odds on Adam Tate scoring the first goal of the game and any punters who backed him were in the winnings when Tatey gave the seconds the lead halfway the first half after great work by Colin Mockford. Banbridge couldn’t break through a resolute North Down defensive setup and the tactics discussed before the game were proving successful with the three points definitely up for grabs.
At half time, skipper Magee was satisfied with the first half performance but warned his team that at 1-0 the game was far from over as the seconds had already lost games from winning positions at Kilkeel and Instonians this season. Unfortunately the seconds found it hard to maintain their first half dominance and a young skilful Banbridge side started to get a grip on the game. The game pattern suddenly changed when Ryan Galway then Jordan Linter both endured periods on the sideline after a collection of fouls. Banbridge took advantage and equalised after a free run into the circle was clinically finished past Matt Jordan in goal. At this stage, it looked like Banbridge would go on and win it as the game opened up but the seconds continued to fight and play some smart hockey.
As the game entered the final 15 minutes, the seconds scored what could be one of the most important goals of the season. Good build up down the left resulted in the ball finding Galway who skilfully cut inside the Bann sweeper, ran into the circle from wide left and with only the keeper to beat, pushed it emphatically into the corner of the net. The goal enabled North Down to re-organise their shape and went about frustrating Banbridge as the clock ticked on. The final whistle came with great relief for North Down who have taken a giant step towards avoiding relegation. Matt Jordan performed impressively in goal as did Jordan Linter and David Shepherd. The experience up front of Peter Shields and Stevie Magee was invaluable in a tight encounter. The seconds welcome Garvey thirds to Comber this Saturday.