North Down travelled to Queens last Saturday for their final league game of the season knowing that they were already guaranteed a playoff against either Civil Service or Raphoe for the final place in the Premier League next season.
The game was played at a fast pace with both teams trying to play attractive hockey. Queens had the early pressure on the North Down circle but the defence held firm and after 10 minutes the visitors took the lead when David Shepherd expertly finished off a flowing move. Shortly afterwards North Down went two up when Phil Wilson flicked high into the net. The Queens keeper was kept busy but was up for the challenge and made a number of fine saves although on a few occasions North Down took the wrong options and a pass would have been the better decision. With 10 minutes of the half remaining Queens attacked down the right and a firm cross was deflected into his own net by Michael Black who claimed he was unsighted.
Queens started the second half strongly and equalised when a hard hit into the circle was deflected past Gareth McBride with the defence slow to react. North Down upped the pace and Simon Watt put them back in front when he scored with a strong reverse shot and shortly afterwards Andy Forrest added number four from a short corner. This had the effect of knocking the fight out of Queens and North Down controlled the remainder of the game and only for some solid keeping the final scoreline could have been much greater.
North Down now must wait until the final games in the Premier League are played which themselves depend on the progress of the Irish Hockey League which is approaching its final stages. It could be as much as a month before the opposition for the vital playoff is known.