North Down made the long journey to Donegal on Saturday to play Raphoe in the Premier League. This game was of significant importance to both sides as they fight for their survival in the Premier League. A North Down win would almost secure their place for next season but a defeat would bring them into a dogfight with Raphoe and Campbellians.
North Down got the perfect start. Ross Linter took a quick free and ran straight at the Raphoe defence. His pass found Josh Gilmore in space and he dispatched his reverse shot into the roof of the net. Raphoe fought hard to get back in the game and were causing some problems down the right but Andy Coates and his defence were well organised and thwarted any danger.
The second half was full of action. A Raphoe corner broke down and the ball was quickly transferred to Gilmore who outpaced the Raphoe defence and squared for Phil Wilson to score. Shortly afterwards the ball broke to Linter who put Gilmore in again on goal but with the keeper looking for a cross he cleverly scored at the near post to make it a seemingly comfortable 3-0 to the visitors. Despite this setback Raphoe kept searching for a goal and after a number of corners had been well saved by Coates a variation eventually broke their duck with Tinney getting the vital touch. As Raphoe pressed forward, North Down looked dangerous on the break and Gilmore completed his first Premier League hattrick when he converted a penalty after having been knocked off the ball in the circle. Raphoe heads began to drop and it was no surprise when Shepherd added number five from a short corner with 5 minutes remaining.
This was a very impressive win for North Down but the scoreline does not give a true reflection of the play. Raphoe were well in the game for long periods but North Down seemed to score at the right times and also Coates made some vital saves to ensure that the home side did not get back into the game.
PMB Man of the Match: Josh Gilmore.
Report from Robin Mitchell.