North Down thirds travelled to take on Mossley thirds in a second round tie in the Junior Shield. In their earlier league meeting this season North Down came out on top with a narrow 3-2 win so this was always going to be a close one.
North Down started brightly and broke through the Mossley defence three times in quick succession. Sam Brown firstly narrowly missed the target before Gilmore had two close range efforts well saved by the keeper. At the other end the visitors defence did well limiting efforts on goal from a well setup press from the hosts. Mossley were well in charge limiting North Down’s chances. With one minute remaining in the first half Mossley finally went ahead. A short corner was awarded when, following a tricky run from the Mossley winger, the ball struck Stuart Nicholson’s foot. Lee Brown got a glove to the resultant drag flick but couldn’t keep it out of the back of the net. At half time the hosts were one up.
In the second half, with North Down attacking the home umpire’s end, off the ball challenges and stick tackles galore went unnoticed. This made North Down more determined to get back in the game and Bryn Walker was causing all sorts of problems with strong runs up the right hand side. On 49 minutes Walker made ground holding off challenges to cross and Josh Gilmore picked up a loose ball and slotted home. North Down were back in the game and applying all the pressure but on 59 minutes, following a chance which fell to Sam Pyper and appeals in vain for a penalty stroke, Mossley went straight to the other end and scored what was to prove the winner.
North Down were determined to get back in the tie yet again piling on the pressure and there was more controversy when a penalty corner was awarded prematurely to North Down when Nicholson seemed likely to score. There was no further scoring and the thirds suffered their first defeat of the season with elimination from the Junior Shield.
Man of the Match: Bryn Walker
Match report by Sam Pyper (with considerable redactions!)