North Down travelled to Kilkeel on Saturday to play last year’s League winners Kilkeel. In most games there are defining moments but in this game there were at least three which affected the outcome. North Down were cruising at 4-1 up but two moments of madness allowed Kilkeel to get some momentum and their persistence was rewarded with an injury time winner from the penalty spot.
North Down opened the stronger and should have taken an early lead but a lack of composure in front of goal was costly. From a short corner the keeper saved and the ball was deflected goalwards but a defender made a fine save. Totally against the run of play and in their first attack the ball was crashed into the circle from the left and deflected in off the centre forward’s stick. North Down fought back and Jonny Moore made space for himself at the top of the circle and thumped an unstoppable shot into the corner of the net. Things got better for North Down when Tom Donnan scored from a variation at a short corner and then Josh Gilmore gave them a comfortable half time lead when he finished off a move from mid circle. At this stage Kilkeel were rattled and had no answer to North Down’s pace of play.
The second half started as the first had finished with North Down on top. Ten minutes in they extended their lead when Donnan finished off a fine passing move. A moment of madness and complete break in concentration allowed Kilkeel to pull one back straight from the hit off. North Down were still in control keeping possession and frustrating the Kilkeel players. With 15 minutes remaining , a harmless ball was played into the circle and a Kilkeel player got a touch but Rodgers in goal who had been in fine form all afternoon thought the ball was struck outside the circle and allowed it to trickle into the net. This gave Kilkeel huge momentum and they piled forward for the equalizer. On a break Gilmore found himself with a one on one with the keeper but the keeper blocked his shot. With 8 minutes remaining Kilkeel hit the post and then got that vital equalizer when the ball was scrambled home after a fine cross. With time ticking away and a draw the likely outcome Kilkeel went for the jugular and in injury time were awarded a penalty which they duly dispatched into the net for the winner.
A distraught North Down side left the pitch knowing that this was a game they definitely should not have lost.
Man of the Match: Phil Templeton