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Match : 1st XI v Ballymena
Date : 2006-12-16
Venue : A
Score : 1-6
Scorers : AB
By Andrew Bell
The day started out with promise and travelling to Ballymena with a young team to play a decent Ballymena side who I personally regard being on the same level as us.
We warmed up together as a team and had a chat as a team about what we are going to do and how we are going to play each person having there say about the match.
Less than a minute after the hit-off and we had conceded due to an unlucky deflection off a back stick and the Ballymena man being in the right place at the right time beating George at the near post. This was a rude awakening for the team and after this we started to play and actually give Ballymena a game. Ballymena made it awkward for the defence especially the way they set up at our hit outs meaning it was difficult for our midfield dynamos to get on the ball. Ballymena scored again on a breakaway play resulting in a short corner, and Daniel being very brave got a stick to it but deflected into the net. Despite our continuing attacking prowess and good wing play just the final ball into the box was lacking.
Halfway through the first half there was a turnaround in fortunes with the men in green having most of the ball and looking the better more fluent hockey playing side when they had the ball. A short corner resulting in a cracking low and hard Andy Bell shot meant there was light at the end of the tunnel. 2-1. However a couple of minutes after Ballymena broke the continuing East pressure and scored a breakaway goal. More short corners were won but not put away!
Coming out for the second half everyone was hungry for a win and nobody thought it was out of reach. Alan burgess controlling the midfield when the game started to open out and beating the opposition with ease. Leon and Michael interchanging and Marky stepping up out of defence creating numerous opportunities. Another Ballymena corner resulting in a soft goal which should have been saved!
After this setback East looked the far better side attacking and putting an enormous amount of pressure on the Ballymena defence, hitting the post twice and winning numerous short corners.
In the end beaten but an East Antrim performance that was a change from the normal style of play, fluent hockey, no talking back to umpires or shouting at our own players and it was a team performance not one person giving less than 100%. At the end of the match one of the umpires came up and congratulated the squad for the match and said that it was enjoyable to watch and umpire, the type of hockey that I personally want the team to play, quick skilful senior league hockey no long ball stuff like the East Antrim of old.
To sum it up what lost us the match was not a lack of skill or passion it was defensive frailties and not being able to hit the target alongside not setting up quick enough for hit outs but this can be worked on and I think there are a lot of positives to come out of a game that sees the 1stXI going through a transitional stage that will hopefully lead to the continuing development of many younger players. The places are there to be won even of the more senior stalwarts!
Leon Currie or Alan Burgess