North Down progressed to the semi-final of the Anderson Cup following a third round 3-1 victory over Premier League champions Instonians. Instonians were on a high having just won the playoffs for promotion to the IHL at the weekend and were full of confidence prior to the start of the game. However, an inept performance and a superb effort from North Down ensured the home side deservedly progressed to the next round.
Inst dominated the early stages but were unable to create any chances. North Down were struggling to hold onto the ball and it looked only a matter of time before Inst would score. However North Down settled and good work won a corner which Gareth McKeown pushed narrowly past the post. The same player made amends shortly afterwards when he was in the right place to slot home at the far post to make it 1-0. Inst, despite having more of the ball, failed to break down a solid home defence and, when they did, Alastair McArthur was in fine form in goals.
The second half saw Inst pile on the pressure but North Down were dangerous on the break. An Inst corner broke down and North Down attacked at pace. McKeown played a delightful pass to Ross Linter who scored from a tap in for a second North Down goal. North Down were in buoyant mood and McKeown added to Inst woes when he expertly converted a penalty corner to make the score 3-0. Inst pulled a goal back with 5 minutes remaining from a short corner which should have been cleared but it was much too little and far too late. In between Inst had won a number of corners but their routine was poor and when they did manage a shot on goal McArthur was up to the challenge.
North Down now await the draw for the semi-finals to see who their semi final opponents will be. The Anderson Cup is the only senior trophy North Down have never won. Can this be their year!
PMB Man of the Match: Gareth McKeown
Report by Robin Minchell.