North Down entertained local rivals Civil Service in a Premier League match last Saturday at Comber in a fixture that was vital to both clubs looking to build up a stock of points. Both sets of players and spectators stood for a minutes silence in memory of Austin Hunter who was so tragically killed recently in Bahrain.
North Down gave one of their poorest performances of the season allowing Civil service to play the game at their pace. Service were the first to create a chance from a corner but Andy Coates saved. Poor tackling led to further corners and from the third Chris Barnes gave Coates no chance. Service then won a turnover ball and Barnes had the simplest of tasks to put his side convincingly two goals in front. North Down had their moments but a poor penalty corner routine resulted in the Service goal not being threatened. On a couple of occasions players took too much out of the ball trying to score from impossible positions when teammates were better positioned. On the stroke of halftime North Down won a corner and this time David Shepherd converted expertly at the near post to give the home team a glimpse of hope at the interval.
The second half saw play switch from end to end with both sides having opportunities to score. Coates made some fine stops from Barnes’ piledrivers and two reverse shots from Aaron Gill after the home defence was split open. The Service keeper was also in action blocking a number of shots but should have been beaten minutes from the end. The ball worked its way across the circle to Gareth McKeown who weaved his way past the keeper but, instead of passing to the unmarked Josh Gilmore in front of goal, attempted a shot from an acute angle and shot into the side netting.
This was a disappointing result for the home side who picked up two nasty injuries Andy Boyd (knee) and Phil Templeton (thumb). Hopefully both will have recovered sufficiently to play against Harlequins on Friday evening.
PMB Man of the Match: Andy Coates.
Report from Robin Mitchell.