North Down 4ths played Ards 3rds in their penultimate league match of the season at Nendrum School on 1 March. With the two teams sitting in first and second position of the league respectfully, the scene was set for a tight and challenging match for both teams and an enjoyable one for spectators.
The game began at a fast pace for both teams. North Down in the opening minutes enjoyed more of the attacking play and they were first to score. Julie Fisher intercepted the ball in the circle and reverse stick shot the ball high into the net past the keeper. After the re-start both teams created spells of pressure. Lynsey Stevenson and Marion Miller worked hard up front supported by Pamela Johnston and Emma Gowdy in midfield. It was from one of these attacks by the home side that Ards got their equaliser. North down were caught high by a quick turn round in play and before they had a chance to recover the visitors had scored leaving the half time score at one each.
After the break, play again flowed up and down the pitch – each team pushing for their second goal, both teams winning penalty corners. It was North Down who were first to capitalise from one of these. A well controlled stop and pass from Jo Irwn at the top of the circle was swept into the net by Julie Fisher on the left post. Within minutes the home side got their third goal after winning another penalty corner. Pamela Johnston took a super strike from the top of the circle which left the defender no chance of stopping as it rocketed into the net. Ards did not give up and attacked the North Down defence winning penalty corners in return. They converted their second goal from one of these in a well taken set piece. The visitors kept the pressure on right to the final whistle looking for their equaliser but good defence play from Ann McBride, Maxine Taylor and Lauren McCormack meant the score remained unchanged. The home side were relieved when the final whistle blew giving a 3-2 victory to North Down. Overall it was a great game, which contained very fast spells of quality play and skilful hockey from both sides. North Down were somewhat lucky to get the three points as Ards fought right to the end providing plenty of excitement for supporters on both sides!
Well done North Down for a great team effort and keeping up their unbeaten record. Thanks to Krista for umpiring. Player of the match was Pamela Johnston.