After recent weeks of being on the receiving end of some suspiciously strong teams, North Down fifths travelled to the Antrim Forum to meet Antrim seconds and were lucky to miss out on the worst of the weekend weather from the latest named Met Office source.
The game started with Antrim surprisingly attempting to play a passing game but the fifths easily soaked up the pressure and as the first quarter progressed North Down started to make their mark on the game. Simon Murray in midfield was superb all day, linking the defence and attack, working tirelessly and calm on the ball. However, although clearly on top the visitors couldn’t carve open the Antrim defence. Curtis Hastings and Gavin Rodgers built the attacks from the back, linking well with the midfielders.
Both keepers were called into action in the second quarter with the Antrim keeper making a couple of wonder saves and at the other end Ryan McKee made two key saves himself just before half time to keep it scoreless at half time.
The second half saw North Down move to a more attacking formation of 3-4-3 and this immediately paid off as they started to convert their pressure into clear cut chances. The Antrim keeper stood firm making several more key saves but eventually on 40 minutes North Down got the breakthrough. Smart play down the left between Michael McClelland and Andrew Haire led to a switch inside. A superb shot high into the net was miraculously saved on the line by North Down ex player Marty Coulter but the ball eventually fell to Jamie Consiglia who finished well and got the all important go ahead goal. The change in formation paid more dividends 5 minutes later with Chris Speers scoring a superb drag flick from a short corner giving the visitors breathing space.
Strong running up front from Mark Shannon and Matt Murray kept Antrim pegged back in the fourth quarter and with 12 minutes remaining North Down all but secured the points when Ben Bond finished smartly as he reverse dinked the ball over the stranded keeper to make it 3-0 and the North Down bench could relax.
North finished out the game on top but couldn’t get their deserved fourth goal to round off an absolutely superb team performance in which Rhys Barratt and James Stewart excelled throughout against a poor Antrim second string.
Burch Autos Man of the Match was Simon Murray.