North Down without four regulars and giving a Premier League debut to 16 year old keeper Ben Bond, secured their first win of the season when they defeated Raphoe 5-3 at Comber Leisure Centre on Saturday.
North Down opened at a fast pace and put Raphoe under early pressure. Skipper Ross Linter was causing all sorts of problems with his strong running and it was he who created the first opportunity of the game when he won a short corner. David Shepherd scored with a strong flick. Minutes later Shepherd repeated the action after the Raphoe defence had conceded another corner. Persistent play down the right flank saw the ball flash across goal to Adam Tate who was unmarked at the far post but he delayed and the chance was gone. In their first attack into the North Down circle Raphoe reduced the arrears but North Down came back strongly and Shepherd completed his second hattrick of the season to give the home side a two goal cushion at half time.
The second half was more evenly contested but North Down never lost control. Tom Donnan converted a penalty to increase their lead and then he picked up a rebound from a corner to score his sides fifth. North Down should have been awarded another penalty when Raphoe appeared to deliberately foul in the circle but the umpire decided a short corner was sufficient punishment and Shepherd’s effort was saved. Shepherd was then denied another goal from a penalty when the umpire ruled that the ball had been stopped inside the circle. In the final 10 minutes Raphoe got some reward for their efforts with two late goals leaving the final score 5-3.
PMB Man of the Match: David Shepherd
Report from Robbin Mitchell