Saturday’s match saw Portrush host league leaders South Antrim.
As Portrush entered the game as the absolute underdogs, they were able to prepare a game plan aiming to upset the on form South Antrim team,
Also with the absence of coach David Price, it was Neil McMaster who stepped in to lead the squad.
From the start, Portrush were able to influence the game and their forwards were able to pressure the South Antrim back line, coming close to taking the lead of the game.
When South Antrim did try to attack the Ports’ communication and teamwork in defence made it difficult for any South Antrim striker to find a way through.
Early in the first half it was Portrush who made their impact on the match whenJames McCook squared the ball to John Dillon in the oppostion circle and John was able to flick the ball into the net giving Portrush the lead.
However, South Antrim reacted right away and caught Portrush side off guard equalising only minutes after Portrush had taken the lead.
Throughout the rest of the first half Portrush continued to play some high quality hockey, winning short corners and finding the forwards in space on the counter attack.
South Antrim continued to look for the win and put Portrush on the back foot. They won a series of short corners and Portrush were forced into several last ditch defensive tackles against multiple South Antrim attacks.
South Antrim were finally awarded a penalty flick andAdam Glass stepped up to convert the flick and to give South Antrim the lead.
Unfortunately for the Ports it wasn’t long until South Antrim were able to find the Portrush goal for a third time.
However Portrush were still influencing the game and still making chances. They won a short corner not long after the Antrim goal and it was Richard McNabb who put his name on the team sheet from a precise slap shot which made it 3-2.
With Portrush now back in the game and looking for the equaliser, South Antrim came under a lot of pressure from the Portrush forwards. Despite the effort it was South Antrim who were able to make the next decisive impact on the match when they were awarded another penalty flick which was converted.
With still time left on the clock Portrush attempted to get back into the match but another goal just wasn’t to be found and South Antrim were able to score two more goals before the final whistle ending the game at 6-2 to the visitors.
This was a disappointing result for Ports, but the squad played some outstanding hockey. The team will look to improve their performance for next week’s match against Antrim Hockey Club, which will be be a key game for both teams fighting to stay out of the relegation zone.
Portrush: Gordon McAlister, Brent Smith (c), Richard McNabb, Andrew McConaghie, Andrew Christie, Graeme Christie, Leon Smith, Scott Horner, Philip Linton, James McCook, John Dillon, Craig Henry, Barry McMullan, Neil McMaster