South Antrim 1st XI 7 - 4 Portrush 1st XI
Portrush travelled to Friends High School in Lisburn to face South Antrim hockey club in their first league game this season.
Newly promoted Portrush were sure to be the underdogs against a side who will surely contend for the Senior one league title this year.
Portrush also welcomed back John Dillon to the squad after his return from a minor injury.
As the game commenced the spectators were in for an entertaining match as both teams were eager for the win. In a matter of minutes into the game South Antrim were the ones who gained, by winning a short corner the South Antrim player fired a precise drag flick that no keeper could save to immediately put Portrush on the back foot 1-0.
However the sharp Portrush side weren’t going down that easily and within two minutes Graeme Christie won Portrush a short corner.
A well drilled routine in which Aaron Kerr scored with a deflection from a mighty hit by John Dillon, gave the South Antrim keeper no chance and Portrush equalised on the 4th minute of the game 1-1.
With the game back all even Portrush were thirsty for the win and pressed the South Antrim defence, so it wasn’t long before John Dillon won Portrush another short corner, however the South Antrim defence read the same routine and put the ball out of play.
As Portrush were still on the press, South Antrim managed to make a quick counter attack eventually earning another short corner.
Unfortunately for Portrush a sneaky deflection found the net to make it 2-1
Not deterred, Portrush played well with the ball and with great play up the pitch from John Dillon, he found Andrew Christie at the edge of the D, who fired away a shot that even the huge South Antrim keeper had no chance of reaching to make it all even at 2-2.
Portrush continued playing well especially on the attack with John Dillon, Graeme Christie and Aaron Kerr putting in superb performances however South Antrim’s counter attack pace was too much and South Antrim were able to put away a third before the break 3-2.
As the second half began, Portrush were determined not to let the game go, attacking well Andrew Christie found his way through the South Antrim defence, shooting to just miss the goal.
From the South Antrim hit out Ryan Smith read the fast ball to the South Antrim player and nipped in front completely shutting out the South Antrim midfielder, on the ball Ryan made a quick one-two with John Dillon to then hit a thunderous shot that the South Antrim keeper had no hope in saving to make it even yet again 3-3.
The game continued with Portrush on the attack and enjoying most of the possession, however South Antrim’s tactics and substitutions put Portrush under immense pressure on the counter attacks, and in the later stages of the second half South Antrim found the goal twice eventually making it 5-3.
However a strong Portrush side weren’t going to give up and still played for the win, with John Dillon hitting an unstoppable reverse shot, to put the ball in the South Antrim goal for a fourth time 5-4.
It seemed Portrush had came back into the game and still had time to get a point or three from the match, but with such attacking play Portrush eventually cracked and South Antrim’s rotated forwards made their impact on the game, so in the dying minutes of the game South Antrim found the goal two more times to make it 7-4 after the 70 minutes of play
It seemed like Portrush had given everything and set out to win, unfortunately on the day it wasn’t meant to be.
However Portrush played a great game of hockey and if they take this performance through the rest of the season, they are sure to have a successful one.
Portrush also had great performances again from Andrew Christie, and John Dillon who made three assists and scored 2 goals between them. Portrush will face Antrim hockey club next week, at Quay Road playing fields Ballycastle, 1pm, all support is welcome!
Team:- Gordon McAlister (GK) Neil McMaster (C), Richard McNabb, Ryan Smith, Aaron Kerr, Andrew Christie, Leon Smith, Callum Mckeeman, Brent Smith, John Dillon, Graeme Christie, Craig Henry, Philip Linton
Man of the match:- Andrew Christie