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Non Sibi Cunctus.
Match : 2nd XI v Bangor 5ths
Date : 2002-10-05
Venue : A
Score : 3-2
Scorers : Johnston(2), Young
By Stuart Campbell
The 2nds went to Bangor on Saturday with a much changed side from the week before, indeed ALL midfielders from the previous week were either playing for the 1sts or unavailable. This however did not dampen the spirits and we were all too aware that a positive result was essential against the only other team in our league without a point.
The game started with East pushing forward and playing excellent possession hockey in Bangors 25. East pressed into the Bangor circle and it wasn't too long before hard work, skill and persistence were rewarded. Quick reactions from Aaron Young in the circle, he picked the ball up rounded the keeper and played the ball across the front of goal were Niel (the predator) Johnston was waiting to slot in at the back post.
Bangor, all of a sudden started playing and came on the attack almost immediately and put the East defence under some serious pressure. After a time of sustained pressure Bangor got their reward. 1-1 and all to play for again.
But this time we were not to be outdone and East pressed forward with Bob Watters and Stephen Nicholl being instrumental in all that was excellent about the hockey we began to play.
We pressed forward from our back line holding onto the ball and stretching Bangor at every opportunity. We were awarded a number of shorts but failed to make any of these count, same old story there then. But our reward did come and it was a carbon copy of the first. This time Niel Johnston picked the ball up in the circle and drilled the ball across goal where Aron Young was waiting to slot the ball home. 2-1 and seemingly in control.
With about 3 minutes remaining in the first half Bangor had a break and a shot from just outside the circle didn't seem to be that dangerous, I know it was outside because I moved out of the way knowing it would not count. However there was one man on the pitch who was convinced it was inside, the umpire, even the striker seemed surprised but did not argue with the decision. Who could blame him. 2-2 and being robbed.
Half time arrived and Soupy and Co. were under no illusion we were robbed and very unlucky to be at 2-2 and to be honest were playing the better hockey and deserved to be at least one ahead.
But these points belonged to us and we were not going back to Belfast without an all out effort to take them with us. Stephen Duffin came on at centre forward and Brian Reid made his return debut at right back.
The next 35 minutes saw the best attacking hockey that the 2nds have played in a very long time. Picking the ball up in midfield, feeding the forwards and attacking with speed, aggression and accuracy. All that was missing was a little bit of luck to give us that goal. We gained a number of short corners with Duff and Reid carrying out GBH on the Bangor defence only to be thwarted by either the keeper or the post.
East pushed numbers forward and Brian Reid, Stephen Nicholl and Aron Young tortured the Bangor left sided players with Andrew Blair and Niel Johnston threatening on the left.
With time running out and chances going astray the easiest chance of the day fell to Aron Young, again Niel the provider drilled the ball across goal but Aron normally so reliable in front of goal, just could not reach the ball and the chance went astray. Maybe this just was not our day.
Well somebody forgot to tell Niel Johnston that. With 2 minutes left on the clock a free was awarded just outside the Bangor circle. Whilst Bangor protested quick thinking Duffin slipped the ball; into the circle, with the keeper charging at him Niel kept his cool and drilled the ball into the bottom corner. 3-2 fully deserved and now it was all backs to the wall.
East took a more defensive stance but were still able to control the last few minutes of the game with Bangor's center forward only being given a limited number of free chances.
Cookie, Leitch, B. Reid, Watson, Gillespie and Mcdonald were strong in defence and quick to react to any thing that Bangor could throw at them. Andrew Blair made an impressive debut at left mid, probably the hardest position on the pitch, Bob Watters made a welcome return and gave glimpses of his old self. Soupy played at center mid for as long as his body would let him. Nothing spectacular but tackled hard when required.
Aron Young, Duffin, Nicholl and Johnston all worked tirelessly in attack and were eventually rewarded with the goals.
This was a superb team performance against a good Bangor team whom we have not beat in at least three years. I, like many other Captains look at our league and pick the teams we need to gain four points off. Bangor was one. On Saturday it was very much mission accomplished. If East Antrim is in the minds of other Captains for this reason they are in for a surprise this year, as long as we show the same commitment, passion and pride as last week.