North Down thirds took on a well organised Portadown second eleven on a very sandy Nendrum College pitch in Comber on Saturday. After last week’s humiliating 6-0 defeat at Cookstown, the thirds needed to get a positive result.
Having lost 5-0 to Portadown earlier in the season in the league cup, North Down knew the challenge that lay ahead. The game started brightly for the home team with a few half chances. However as the match went on Portadown grew in confidence and cool heads were required from all. Allen Irwin at sweeper ensured the defence wasn’t breached with Ben Long and Paul Beaney proving very capable at left and right back. Christopher Drysdale and Ben Willis provided width in midfield allowing the forward line to create space. A good solid defensive half of hockey was finished off with North Down taking the lead from a counter attack. Skipper Sam Pyper and Scotty Moore broke through before Moore finished off to make it 1-0 for North Down.
A determined team talk at half time set the home team up nicely for an aggressive second half. Portadown came out fighting stronger and had a few chances to level. North Down held firm though and with 6 minutes to go a counter attack allowed Pyper to pass to Sam Brown who slotted the ball past the keeper. The score was 2-0 to the home team and surely three points were in the bag.
Portadown hadn’t read the script though and they pulled one back after some sloppy defending with only 4 minutes left. North Down’s task now was to hang on and see out the game and get the three points. However, a foul on the edge of the penalty circle was followed by a penalty corner after a North Down player hadn’t retreated the full 5 yards. Portadown scored from the corner to level at 2-2.
No time was left for North Down to fight back. The game finished a disappointing draw. North Down knew they should have held on for victory, however the result does bring an end to a long losing streak and get a much needed point in the league.
PMB Man of the Match: Jamie Orr
Report from Sam Brown