Cookstown having been relegated from the IHL last season travelled to Comber on Saturday for a Premier League game. With both teams having secured maximum points in Week 1 everyone was looking forward to a good competitive game.
Cookstown got the perfect start scoring in the first minute. Slack marking in the home defence allowed the ball to be played into the circle and the centre forward beat Darren Rodgers from mid circle. Gareth McKeown had a good run into the visitors’ defence but the danger was cleared. Rodgers at the other end was then called upon to make a fine clearance as the Cookstown forwards closed in. McKeown and Scott Moore combined but Moore’s shot went wide. Jonny Linter was caught in possession and Cookstown won a corner but the danger was cleared.
As in the first quarter Cookstown opened the second strongly and an early shot was deflected at the expense of a corner which was dispatched into the roof of the net giving Rodgers no chance. North Down won a corner after a defender had carelessly kicked the ball in the circle and McKeown dispatched into the corner of the net to make it 1-2. McKeown was causing problems for the Cookstown defence but his cross was high and evaded everyone and then just before the interval Cookstown won a number of corners but the home defence held firm.
The third quarter saw both teams push forward for further goals. Firstly it was Cookstown and Mark Linter had to be on hand to help Rodgers clear his lines and Cookstown then broke quickly and an accurate cross resulted in their third goal. North Down then had their best period in the game when good interplay from Orr, Linter and Welsh stretched the Cookstown defence but Welsh’s final pass failed to pick out Gilmore and the chance was gone. Jonny Linter played an accurate overhead which found Ross Linter and he in turn played a one two with skipper Wilson but the shot was saved. A great move involving Andy Boyd, Jonny and Ross Linter saw a cross flash across goal but no one was able to get on the end of it. Just before the end of the quarter Jamie Orr was caught in possession and Cookstown had a simple run in to score number four.
The fourth quarter was evenly contested as both teams tried hard to gain superiority. The nearest to a goal came when Welsh won a penalty stroke but unfortunately Gilmore’s effort went wide.
Burch Autos Man of the Match was Conor Tweedie.