Portrush overcome stern test by students in game one of Irish Trophy

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Portrush traveled to Queen’s University for their first game of the Irish Hockey Trophy.

In the previous fixtures between the two teams, Portrush narrowly missed out on achieving points in the games, however a more determined Portrush squad showed up on Saturday to take win and progress on further in the competition.

As the game began Portrush took control of the ball, with more passing and letting the ball do the work. Portrush found a more comfortable style of play, resulting in each player throughout the squad being a lot more composed on the ball. Early in the first half Portrush came close to taking the lead on multiple occasions but Queen’s keeper and defence line made it extremely difficult for the Ports.

As Portrush continued to attack, constantly putting the Queens defence under pressure, it seemed only a matter of time before Portrush would take the lead.

As the first half carried on Queens were eager to put their stamp on the match but the Portrush defence was too solid as Richard McNabb and Ryan Smith made sure no strikers were to be let through.

As the game carried on in what played out as another thrilling game, Portrush proceeded to be a major threat against the Queen’s defence with opportunities coming from Aaron Kerr, Scott Horner and Callum Mckeeman but the goal just couldn’t be found.

Nevertheless Portrush didn’t panic and played on. However midway into the first half Queens were able to make an interception, from this one mistake the Queen’s striker was able to break through to be one on one with the Portrush keeper Matt Jordan, who made an extraordinary save but Queens were awarded a penalty flick. As the Queen’s captain stepped up to take the flick the pressure was on. From a precise flick Matt Jordan made a tremendous save keeping it all even at 0-0.

As the game carried on both sides came close to finding the goal but Queens were the first to strike, with their midfielder Mark McCoy finding the Portrush goal, in what was devastating blow for Portrush who were now 1-0 down.

Queen’s however weren’t in the lead for long as Portrush were determined to find the goal. Nearing the break Portrush were awarded a short corner, with John Dillon’s powerful hit, a deflection from Aaron Kerr was all that was needed for Portrush to equalise, and at the break the game was all even at 1-1.

As the game recommenced after half time Portrush continued to play in a composed manner and had good possession of the ball, also good communication from the midfield held the squad together, resulting in being better defensively and more threatening when Portrush were on the attack. By this stage, 16 minutes left of the clock Leon Smith was able to find the Queen’s goal with a slick reverse shot putting Portrush in the lead at 2-1.

Now in control of the game Portrush continued to keep possession of the ball, as the Queens squad became more and more frustrated Portrush kept calm and played on, winding the game down to the final whistle, were after 70 minutes Portrush played some incredible hockey to take a hard fought victory of 2-1. A great performance by Scott Horner having recently returning to Portrush. Also another good performance by Brent Smith at centre back, and overall great performances all round with Andy Christie, Aaron Kerr and Leon Smith to mention a few.

Portrush: Matt Jordan, Neil McMaster, Ryan Smith, Brent Smith, Richard McNabb, Andrew Christie, Callum Mckeeman, Leon Smith, Scott Horner, Aaron Kerr, John Dillon, Philip Linton, Graeme Christie.

Man of the Match: Scott Horner