With the First XI receiving a walkover in the Linden Cup through the withdrawal of Newcastle earlier in the week, the Seconds made the trip down the Frosses to meet Mossley 4th XI in the second group match of the Ulster Hockey Junior 4 Cup.
After a narrow defeat at the hands of the same team a few months earlier in the Junior 5 Cup, skipper Craig Hogg was well aware of the tough job ahead of his team this week. It was made even more difficult with only eleven players being able to make the trip to Newtownabbey.
The Ports were put under pressure from the off, however, the Seasiders’ defence provided more than a match for the Mossley waves of attack, with young keeper Kane pulling off a number of reaction saves to keep the scores level. The deadlock was only broken through a miscommunication and a poor call from the defence that saw the ball dribble over the line to make it 1-0 to Mossley.
With the majority of the Mossley side camped in the oppositions half, Portrush took the opportunity to break and stretch the Mossley defense. Some excellent work in the midfield of McMullan, Hogg, Henry and Mckinnon led to a number of long corners with only the Mossley keeper denying The Ports a goal. The break finally came when The Ports forced a short corner. With a quick pushout from Aaron Douglas, Lewis Green stopped and laid off for a powerfully struck Andy Dalzell shot straight at the keeper, the follow up strike expertly lobbed the Mossley defence and keeper to level the scores.
With spirits raised and the Mossley side finding it difficult to contain The Ports continual counter attacks, Barry McMullan ran through a number of defenders to hit a sweetly struck reverse to put The Ports in the lead. This was to be the high point of the first half, as the advantage of having rested legs finally started to pay off for Mossley and forced a number of defensive errors to put two goals past keeper Kane to take the Portrush side into half time a goal down.
The break and half time talk rejuvenated the North Antrim side, as they came out catching the East Antrim side on the break numerous times, only to be denied by some excellent reaction saves by the Mossley stopper. Despite Mossley using their ability to bring rested legs on to maximium effect, wearing down the The Ports defence and breaking down the right hand side with pace, they could not find a break for much of the first half. Sadly, the pressure proved too much for the by now exhausted Portrush defence as poor defending led to a Mossley centre forward being given too much space in front of goal; giving the Port’s keeper no chance to save the tap in.
The North Antrim men continued to break and cope well with the pressure of Mossleys for much of the second half, being denied goals on a number of occasions by the experienced Mossley defence. With less than 7 minutes on the clock and a full on attack by Mossley led to chaos in the Portrush circle, with the same defender being caught on his heels leaving a Mossley striker to deflect a crashed shot past the outstretched arms of keeper Kane to make it 5.
With nothing to lose The Ports went on all out attack, forcing a number of long and short corners, with no avail. A last ditched attempt on the final whistle summed up much of the game, as the usually super-fit legs of McKinnon, Dalzell and Henry depleted their reserves to narrowly miss a full stretch effort leaving the final score 5-2.