North Down fifths travelled to South Antrim fourths for a tricky away tie made even more difficult by the home seconds team playing immediately before the game.
North Down travelled with a strong side but were the usual snails out of the blocks and within 3 minutes were 1-0 down. They knuckled down and slowly but surely got themselves back into the game. James Stewart marshaled the troops at the back and was quite simply excellent. Into the 2nd quarter and North Down started to exert pressure on the home defence. Numerous circle breaks eventually resulted in a short corner which was calmly dispatched by Matt Murray to make it 1-1 at half time.
Into the second half and the visitors continued to push the home defence. After a number of attacks North Down were sucker punched, losing the ball in midfield as they were pressing forward. This exposed the defence and South Antrim slotted home to take the lead 2-1. In a blink of an eye they were 3-1 down and it looked ominous for the Comber boys. From nowhere North pressed and harassed South Antrim’s midfield not giving them a second on the ball. Simon Murray turned the ball over in midfield, fed Jamie Consiglia who in turn broke into the circle and won a short corner. Yet again Matt Murray finished well and the fifths were back in the game. With 3 minutes of the quarter remaining Peter Bond fought his way down the left hand side, squared to Simon Murray who brilliantly found Matt Murray in the circle in acres of space. He didn’t need asking twice, rounded the keeper and slotted home for his hat trick to make it 3-3 with 1 quarter remaining.
The game was there for the taking with a new formation working a treat. Tireless play from Ben Long, Michael McClelland and Curtis Hastings put the Lisburn guys’ midfield on the back foot but they were unable to cut out any clear chances.
South Antrim fought back into the game and they were awarded a stroke after a scrappy short corner. Step forward their 2nd XI goalkeeper, whose name was suspiciously missing from the team sheet, but keeper Roger Graham stood firm and made a great save low to his right.
With 10 minutes to go the game was in the balance as both teams had chances to score, the best of these falling to South Antrim. Their 14 man squad on their 12 man team sheet was dominating in the closing dying minutes. With 45 seconds left, South Antrim were awarded a rather generous short corner which was scored from but there was still time for the home 2nd XI goalkeeper Ian Watters to get yellow carded seconds later. In a frantic finish Curtis Hastings thought he had equalised but was just beaten by the umpire’s final whistle and the result stood at 4-3.
Burch Autos Man of the Match was Matt Murray.