Thirds fight back just too late
The mens thirds entertained Harlequins seconds at Enler Park on Saturday. With the visitors sitting one place ahead in Junior League Two, the hosts hoped to close the gap and continue to climb places.
They however did not get off to the greatest of starts when Quins scored a well worked short corner on 11 minutes followed up by a freak deflection that took Peter Gray in goal by surprise to take a two goal lead just on the first break. The thirds came out firing and in the first minute of the second quarter a Stuart Nicholson aerial from a dead ball was nudged on by Sam Pyper into the area. To the striker’s surprise both Quins defenders left it for each other, and he was able to nip in and finish past the advancing keeper. The thirds levelled on 34 minutes when Reuben McIlrath slapped home well during a short corner from the top of the circle to make it 2-2 at half time.
North Down should have been on the ascendancy after having dominated the second quarter but some silly mistakes in the first 10 minutes in the quarter let three soft quick fire goals in and Quins were cruising at 5-2. A collapse of the highest order and the home team looked rattled. Into the final quarter and with 10 minutes to go, the Comber men pushed forward sacrificing a defender for an additional attacker. Stephen Magee playing a NFL style ‘quarter back’ role was causing all sorts of problems with his pinpoint aerials. This style allowed play to switch instantly from one side to the other and attack down the flanks. With 5 minutes remaining, an error at the back from Quins put Pyper one on one with the keeper but his effort was charged down only for Magee to pick up the loose ball and round a melee of players before firing into the net past the last defender. North Down immediately grabbed the ball to restart. In the final minute they worked a great move down the right with Magee involved again dribbling past defenders to the baseline and pulling back for Pyper to finish and make it 5-4. However the late charge was against the clock and Quins saw the game out. Given another 5 minutes and North Down could as easily have scored another goal or two or conceded another three!
Bunch Autos Man of the Match: Stephen Magee