North Down began their Kirk Cup campaign last Thursday evening when they travelled to Annadale and then last Saturday they entertained Newry at Comber Leisure Centre.
In the Thursday game Annadale dominated possession for long periods but struggled to get past a resolute North Down defence. They won a series of corners but keeper Andy Coates and his defence were in fine form. Annadale won a penalty flick for an awkward tackle by Mark Linter but Coates made an excellent save. They eventually got the break through seven minute from time following another short corner. Coates made the initial save but Annadale reacted quickest and smashed the ball into the net.
The confidence gained from this performance was carried forward into the Newry game two days later. They took the lead after two minutes when Chris Speers scored from a variation at a short corner. However, after 14 minutes Newry were level. A cross from the right evaded a number of defenders before being picked up in front of goal by a Newry forward who had the simple task of equalising. Newry won a series of corners but these brought no reward.
In the second period the Newry players tired and with North Down using their full squad it was no surprise that they took the lead with 15 minutes remaining. After a break down the left by Josh Gilmore, Gareth McKeown got the ball inside the circle and slipped a return pass to the unmarked Gilmore who slotted home for his first senior goal. Within two minutes, North Down further increased their lead. Good work by Phil Wilson in the circle created space for Tom Donnan to score from close range. The game became scrappy after this and neither goal was threatened.
The Kirk Cup continues on Wednesday when NICS are the visitors at the Comber Leisure Centre for a 8.30 push back.
PMB Man of the Match: Joint winners, Andy Coates and Phil Wilson.
Report: Robin Mitchell