North Down travelled to Deramore Park last Friday evening for a Premier League game against Harlequins. There was concern about the state of the pitch due to the early frost but the umpires declared it playable. Players did slip and slide but thankfully no one got injured.
North Down played some of their best hockey of the season in the first 20 minutes moving the ball around with pace but their only clear shot on goal was a reverse from Gareth McKeown which was saved by Kelly. With their first attack into the North Down circle Harlequins were awarded a corner. A well worked switch gave Coates no chance and they took an undeserved lead. North Down seemed to lose focus and almost immediately they were two behind when sloppy defending allowed Harlequins in for a simple goal.
The second period saw both sides make a number of mistakes on the slippery pitch and Harlequins added number three before McKeown pulled one back for the visitors. Harlequins increased their lead to 3-1 after a simple turnover allowed them in on goal. McKeown then picked up a rebound off the post to get his second and Jordan Linter was unlucky when he burst through the defence only to see his shot deflect off the post to safety. With the Harlequins defence looking unsure North Down piled on the pressure but again poor work gave Harlequins another turnover and they scored another to make it 5-2. They added a sixth to make the game safe before McKeown completed his hattrick with a fine reverse shot from the edge of the circle.
This was a high scoring game which could have ended 7-7 as both teams made simple mistakes on a difficult surface but on the night Harlequins made more of their opportunities and deserved their victory.
PMB Man of the Match: Gareth McKeown
Report from Robin Mitchell
All league hockey now takes a break over the Christmas period and is set to resume on 7 January however in purely domestic terms the annual charity fixture between North Down Hockey and Cricket Clubs is scheduled for 1.00 pm on Boxing Day at Comber Leisure Centre.