North Down, after suffering a humiliating defeat at the hands of Newry the week previous, travelled to Campbell College on Saturday looking to bounce back with a much improved performance. Options for coach McKeown were restricted when Chris Speers took ill and had to withdraw at the last minute.
It was North Down who opened at a fast pace and had Campbellians pegged back in their own half for the first 20 minutes. However, despite the pressure, they were unable to create any clear cut chances. Eventually they broke the deadlock when David Shepherd converted a short corner. Campbellian’s first attack upfield produced an equaliser. Mark Linter was caught in possession up the pitch and the ball was played into the space behind him. An attempted challenge resulted in the ball being deflected in the air and Millar reacted quickest to blast the ball first time past the helpless Coates. North Down were soon back on the attack and Josh Gilmore restored their lead when he was in the right position to flick home a rebound after good approach play.
The standard of play deteriorated in the second period with neither side able to create goal scoring opportunities. However with 15 minutes remaining North Down increased their lead to 3-1. A short corner was awarded and a Shepherd miscue managed to squeeze past Rodgers in goal. Shepherd was then carded for a rather innocuous tackle and during his time in the sinbin the team lost its shape and began to defend too deeply. They eventually were penalised for feet in the circle and Campbellians reduced the arrears through Easlea from the resulting corner. Panic now set in and with 5 minutes remaining a defensive error allowed Hall to sneak in and grab the equaliser. With 2 minutes remaining Campbell had a chance to secure maximum points but Millar missed an open goal at the back post then North Down went straight to the other end and won a corner but Shepherd’s effort was saved by Rodgers.
This was definitely a case of points lost rather than a point gained and a much more focused effort will be required this Saturday against Harlequins at Comber.
PMB Man of the Match: David Shepherd.
Report from Robin Mitchell.