North Down thirds, having beaten Newry seconds twice previously in the league, were in confident form ahead of the Junior Three League cup Final at Stormont last Saturday, however well aware that anything can happen on cup day!
With a strong North Down contingent in support, the Comber men started the game confidently keeping possession and there were glimmers of chances being created but with that final ball letting them down. Out of possession the men in white setup well and looked solid in defence with the back four neatly switching play from one side to the other. Keeping possession was skipper Pyper’s game plan to frustrate their opponents. Chances were limited to a few short corners in the first half and Shepherd was unlucky to see his drag flick saved off the line. North Down continued to dominate and on 32 minutes as Pyper broke into the circle in quest of a short, the umpire played advantage off a Newry shin and Shannon’s effort was saved only to drop to Scott Moore who finished well to put North Down into the lead. Newry disputed the height of the advantaged foul and surrounded the umpire but this was to be their down fall as their already fragile discipline was now lost. The Comber boys went into half time one goal to the good with their tails up whereas their opponents were left arguing amongst themselves.
The half time team talk was simple. Continue to play the game and let Newry and their lack of discipline be their downfall. The second half got under way in much the same vein as how the first ended. North Down continued to dominate possession and Newry became more frustrated with loose tackles resulting in cards being dished out. North Down took advantage and on 45 minutes Moore finished well to get his brace. With the large Comber support cheering every Newry mistake the men in red lost it completely and one yellow card followed another leaving only 9 men on the pitch. On 62 minutes Sam Pyper put the game out of sight after great work from Shannon on the right setup him up to tap in his 300th club goal on which he revealed a #300 t-shirt much to the delight of the travelling supporters. As Newry pushed to get back into the game, North Down simply turned over ball and played counter attacking hockey with McGimpsey and Shepherd pulling the strings in midfield. One such attack in the final minute gave Moore and Pyper a two on one and once Moore coaxed the last defender in he slipped the ball to Pyper who rocketed home from the edge of the area giving the keeper no chance. A fitting and memorable way to end the day and the thirds will hope to continue winning ways as they push for a secure top 2 spot in the league for promotion.
PMB Man of the Match: David Shepherd