North Down thirds travelled to Banbridge fourths for their first round Junior Shield match on Saturday.
Keen to keep their undefeated streak going and progress in the competition the Comber men started confidently controlling the game for much of the first half but for all their chances were only able to convert once. On 14 minutes Josh Gilmore with his trademark reverse skills give the keeper no chance. As the half progressed ND became more frustrated that they could not extend their lead and their general passing and possession became sloppy. This was a poor half for the league leaders who perhaps have lost a little momentum with the recent number of games postponed due to weather.
At half time although ahead North Down had to come out with a much improved performance to put the tie to bed. Clearly however the hosts’ half time team talk had Banbridge much more fired up and they who dominated the play and put Lee Brown and his defence under pressure with a series of eight short corners back to back. A drag flick hit Stuart Nicholson on the goal line however another short was given when most expected a stroke to be awarded. For all Banbridge’s pressure they failed to capitalise until 2 minutes from time when an unintentional deflection headed towards goal and Brown seemingly unaware that the touch was inside the circle stepped over the ball and the tie was back on. North Down held on until full time and quickly regrouped with strong words given regarding effort before silver goal extra time commenced.
North Down struck almost immediately when they were awarded a penalty corner in the first minute of extra time and Sam Pyper fired home what proved to be the winning silver goal. There’s no rest for the thirds as they play Mossley thirds in the next round in Mossley this Saturday.
Report by Sam Pyper.