North Down won a nine goal thriller at Newry on Saturday on a very sandy and bumpy pitch. The state of the pitch did not lend itself to quick flowing hockey and both teams had to resort to the long ball tactic.
North Down got the perfect start when they were awarded a penalty corner after 4 minutes. The routine worked perfectly and David Shepherd scored with a strong flick. Newry quickly were back on level terms again from a corner. Taylor avoided the outrunning Phil Wilson and Ally McArthur saved his shot only for the ball to run straight to the winger who scored. Newry piled on the pressure and the North Down defence had some narrow escapes. Good work on the right by Stevie Dalzell saw his cross find Gareth McKeown who flicked strongly into the net and then North Down increased their lead to 3-1 with a similar goal but this time it was Wilson who flicked home.
Newry opened the second half in a determined mood and put the visitors’ defence under pressure. In a 10 minute spell they not only wiped out the two goal deficit but took the lead 4-3. Their second and third goals were scored from close range but the third was a strong reverse from the sweeper who had been allowed to drift into the circle unmarked. North Down steadied the ship and Newry’s renowned indiscipline with a number of yellow card suspensions allowed them to regain control. A lovely move down the right saw the ball squared back for Richard McMillan to hammer home the equaliser with 10 minutes remaining. With four minutes on the clock Wilson, who was having a fine game, weaved his way into the circle and unleashed a reverse shot past the keeper to restore the lead. North Down were able to run down the clock and secure a vital win in their battle against relegation.
PMB Man of the Match: Phil Wilson
Report by Robin Minchell