North Down travelled to Lisburn on Saturday without a number of regulars to play South Antrim in the Premier League. Slack defending again cost them dearly as they went down by 5-3.
North Down opened strongly and won two corners in the first ten minutes. The first was taken off the line by a defender with the keeper beaten and the second was well saved by the keeper. At the other end South won a corner and scored at the keeper’s left post. Shortly afterwards a mix up in the visitors defence allowed South to score from close in, Play became confined to midfield but North Down won another corner which Shepherd expertly converted. In a quick break Donnan found himself one on one with the keeper. His shot was saved but the ball broke to Ross Linter who flicked narrowly past.
One minute before half time South attacked down the right and delivered a strong cross into the circle. The ball deflected from a North Down defender’s stick onto a South Antrim stick and into the net past a bemused McBride. A complete fluke as the South Antrim player had no idea where the ball was, however, it counted and made it 3-1 at the break.
The second half saw North Down go all out on attack and they were rewarded after 10 minutes when Phil Wilson scored with a strong shot from the edge of the circle. North Down were in total control but with 15 minutes remaining a poor decision by the umpire changed the game completely. North Down were penalised in their own half for no apparent reason. South reacted quickest and with the North Down players questioning the decision South took advantage of the situation and delivered the ball into the circle where their unmarked forward had no difficulty in beating McBride to make it 4-2.
However North Down again fought back and Shepherd scored a fine goal from another corner. In the final 10 minutes play became scrappy and players from both sides received cards. Down to ten players North Down lost their shape and allowed South to see out time. With two minutes remaining South were awarded a corner and McBride made a fine double save before the ball was hammered into the net to make the final score 5-3 in favour of the home team.
There is a break from Premier League action this coming weekend as North Down entertain Dublin YMCA in the Irish Senior Cup at Comber Leisure Centre at 2.30 pm.
Report by Robin Mitchell