North Down men’s thirds travelled to Kilkeel seconds on Saturday and faced a strong squad of 16.
From the off, the hosts put pressure on the ND defence and dominated the first 5 minutes. North Down to their credit held firm, settled into the game and turned the tide controlling the pace and edging the first quarter. They were unlucky not to be 1 up going into the break as Greg Bell’s deflection that looped over the Kilkeel goalkeeper was deemed to be from outside the circle, when in fact it was at least 2 yards inside. The home umpire was not for changing his mind.
The second quarter started and within minutes, a few costly errors found the Comber men 2-0 down and chasing the game. Chances at the other end were few and far between and it remained 2-0 at half time.
Into the third quarter, a well struck short corner made it 3-0 to the hosts. Coach Sam Pyper made a few changes and reshuffled the pack with Andy Walls shoring up the defence and letting Jamie Orr and Andy McKee loose in the centre of midfield to spark the creativity needed to get back into the game. North Down charged forward and a well struck shot from
Dermot Gouk on his debut was deflected in by Bell to make it 3-1. The duo combined again shortly after and Bell was left with a tap in in front of goal to make it 3-2.
The charge was on and in the final quarter Mark Shannon’s strike looped up into the air over the advancing keeper only to strike the last defender’s foot. Surely a penalty stroke was going to be awarded? Not today! Once again, another decision not going North Down’s way and a double whammy when Kilkeel counter attacked and their striker made no mistake crashing past Sam Martin in goal. The thirds continued to press but couldn’t find a way back and the game finished 4-2. Although feeling slightly aggrieved as a share of the points would have been a fair result, this was a good Kilkeel side and the thirds will have to quickly get used to this level in what is a strong Junior 2 league.
Burch Autos Man of the March was Paul Beaney.