By Lauren Brown
On Saturday, the ladies firsts hosted Cookstown in their second Senior Cup game. The whistle blew to signal the start of the match and North Down took no time to get started. Cookstown were taken back by the home team’s fast flowing hockey and couldn’t cope with their movement. This resulted in the first penalty corner of the match being awarded. The accurate placement of the ball out from Rachel Hutchinson meant it was stopped perfectly on the edge of the circle for captain Bex Mitchell to fire the ball into the back of the net putting the score to 1-0 to North Down. At the restart, North Down immediately won the ball back and continued to dictate the game high on confidence after Wednesday’s victory. In the next passage of play, the home side won another corner. This was put out slightly wide allowing Laura Clarke to take the ball herself and put it past the Cookstown keeper- a well taken goal! This is just what North Down needed, a good start leaving them 2-0 up within 10 minutes. Cookstown were rattled and struggled to get hold of the ball as Rebecca Mercer and Hannah McKee (making her great return) did well to keep possession of it in midfield. North down doing exactly what was asked of them by the coach furthered their lead when Shannen White cooly slotted the ball home.
This third goal finally seemed to spark a bit of life into the away side and they began to come back into the game a bit more nearing the end of the first rest half but as the half time whistle blew, the score remained 3-0 to North Down.
North Down stepped out for the second half knowing they couldn’t be complacent and needed another goal but to say this was a game of two halves would be an understatement. North down struggled to get into their stride and were sloppy on the ball, giving the it away too easy and turning into flat sticks. Cookstown took advantage of this and begin to pressurise the North Down defence. They won a series of short corners which North Down did well to defend but every time they cleared the ball it seemed to come straight back at them. Cookstown eventually broke through and got a goal back. This was followed by another from a short corner making the score 3-2. The home time continued to work hard and push on for another goal creating a number of half chances but struggling to convert them as the opposition stood strong. Some dubious umpiring and an unfortunate ankle injury to Clarke which took her out of the game did not help matters. Nearing the end of the match, Cookstown won another short corner which was converted by their ‘danger player’ with less than five minutes to go. Neither team had time to grab the winner and the game finished 3-3. Disheartening for North Down who took such an early lead but there were no excuses for letting the game slip from their grasp.
Player of the match: Rachel Hutchinson
The ladies move onto their next challenge v Civil Service AWAY on Tuesday night. A must win game against local rivals! Pass back 8.00pm. All support is again very much appreciated.