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Non Sibi Cunctus.
Match : 2nd XI v Banbridge
Date : 2001-11-03
Venue : A
Score : 4-3
Scorers : Duffin(2), P. Reid, Young
By 2nd XI Captain
Tremendous efforts had been made by all captains to ensure that a full fixture list could be completed this weekend and first and foremost I thank Michael Jackson and Rambo for their understanding and genourosity.
Soupy and Paul Reid both arrived half an hour late, setting the perfect example for the stars of the future. We were quite leisurely in leaving Ballysillan until Soupy heard a whisper that the 3rds were down to nine, Soupy and Paul Reid briefly discussed the matter in true assembly fashion and immediately engines were revved, tires screeched and the 2nds made their way to Banbridge with eleven Gladiators of the astro-turf.
There are classic games that are remembered by all, young and old, the sort of game that makes it all worth while, watching or playing, a game were heroes come forward, the will to win shines through and the sort of game were there can be only one winner.
England v Germany 1966, Northern Ireland v Spain '82, Man Utd v Bayern Munich 1999 well add EAHC v Banbridge 2001 to that list because this was a classic game were every ounce was asked of all and every ounce was gratefully given.
Without a travelling umpire Ban gratefully provided 2 senior umpires. With the disciplinary record of the 2nds it was stressed that we were to follow the captains example and get stuck in as we always do. The game started evenly with Ban having a couple of half chances early on but with Jeff Riddell on right mid and Stephen Nicholl on right wing (is he really quicker than Soupy?) we always looked dangerous in attack.
Midway through the first half the breakthrough came a break down the right, Riddell to Nicholl and a lightning cross to pick Duffin out in the circle. Duffin tried to hit the ball but topped it, fortunately the keeper had already been grounded and the ball scuttled over the helpless heap on the ground. Duffin brilliantly followed up and was rewarded with a superb goal. 1-0.
We continued to surge forward and were beginning to enjoy a period of sustained pressure, but then Ban defence cleared the ball, but they made a mistake they cleared it to the one the only Mr Paul Reid. He claims he does not get credit on the reports so indulge me.
Paul picked the ball up 10 yards outside the oppositions 25, snatching the ball from the air with majestic ease. Then it came, the blistering pace, the overwhelming power and deadly skill that make Paul the complete central midfield general. Striving towards the circle with options both sides, we all expected a simple pass but Paul surged forward snarling at defenders as they came towards him, charging them to the side if they dared to tackle. Head down towards the circle, like the Flying Scotsman with a full head of steam, it was clear a pass was not on his agenda. Then a clear call from Duffin "go yourself!!" and so he did. Into the circle and everyone held their breath, a swing that is more likely to be seen at St Andrews than Banbridge and the ball left the stick at a speed not yet registered on most makes of car. The keeper saw it, but could do nothing about it, such was the accuracy, the ball nestled in the corner of the net and Paul Reid ran to the onlooking crowd pointing to the badge that he so proudly plays for every week. 2-0 and cruising.
Things were looking good but Ban were not going to sit back and came straight on the attack forcing Soupy (playing an unnaccustomed center back) to wield the hatchet of justice. He done this on many occassions and was penalised with many short corners given against all of the defence. The umpires done a stirling job but were adamant that any tackle on a Ban player in the 25 was an immediate short corner.
Ban had obviously had practice at their short corner routine and subsequently converted number 3 or 4. The previous corners had been brilliantly defended by Jeff Riddell and Paul Grant. We were unlucky to concede because Jeff had got to the first shot only for the ball to fall straight a Ban player to pick his spot, Johnny Duncan didn't have a chance.
Bans heads were up again and before half time another short corner was converted in very similar fashion to the first, again Jeff blocked the first shot only for the Ban forwards to pick up the lose ball and convert in the corner.
Just for the record I recall giving away a short for the first goal and highly likely did the same for the second.
Half time approached and the teams went in level. Another gentle team talk from Soupy and Reid and the second eleven were once again ready to eat raw meat for the cause of EAHC.
Ban started the 2nd half by far the stronger and the defence was finding itself under some serious pressure, Gerard Mahoney and Michael Gordon making his 2nd eleven debut, played superbly, stopping attacks at critical times using intelligence and experience far beyond their years.. Michael gave everything almost to the point of collapse on at least one occassion. A lesson is there for all players in committment and pride.
We were very much feeding off scraps in the 2nd half and from one scrap Aaron Young somehow created a four course dinner. A pinpoint cross from Duffin, foraging on the right wing found Aaron loitering on the penalty spot. Somehow he had evaded all Ban radar detection and found himself one on one with the keeper. The Aaron of old may have took a mad swing but not now, he coolly waited for the keeper to charge at him then slipped the ball into the keepers bottom left corner. I often talk of composure in the final third. This was composure at its very highest. Brilliant goal 3-2.
Aaron now goes to Newcastle United Football Club School of excellence for eight weeks to pursue his dream of earning £50,000 a week for playing football. I am sure all at the club wish him all the best in the immediate future and I for one look forward to his return in the New Year.
Ban once again came forward enticing defenders to lunge and chop in the 25 accutely aware that the reward would more often than not be given. It was once again from a short corner that Ban added a third. Ball to the top of the circle and a piledriver straight down the middle.
Were we defeated or would we continue to search for the decisive winner?. What do you think. Aaron Young was robbed of a superb goal by a layer of paint on the post. The ball once again came from the right and Aaron was patiently waiting at the far post he swung to meet the ball giving no margin for error only to watch the ball bounce back from the post.
With only minutes left on the clock and both teams tiring it was time for a hero to step up. He came in the shape of Stephen Duffin. We won a short corner with 4 minutes remaining. We quite simply had to make it count. The ball came to Duffin on the top of the circle. Aware that Ban had blocked all routes to Reid he dragged the ball back sidestepped his marker took two steps into the circle and slotted the ball in the corner a superb goal.
But it wasn't over, once again Ban came forward and earned a few more short corners, (heartstopping stuff). With only seconds remaining Ban won short corner number 567723423784678. The whistle went and all Ban players came up for the short. A small pep talk and the defenders were aware of what was required. Aaron Young, standing in for the now injured Jeff Riddell, charged his way to the top of the circle, closely followed by Paul Grant. They put the striker under severe pressure and the ball flew past the post.
Victory was ours. The reactions by both teams illustrated how closely and fiercely this match had been fought.
All in all a superb team performance that must now be repeated next week and in the following weeks.
I could pick MOM from any of five or six all for different reasons:
Paul Reid for probably the best goal we will see this season.
Paul Grant for tireless work and encouragement.
Jeff Riddell for on occassions single handedly taking on the Ban attack and fighting back even when injured.
Paul Leitch for once again being the giant of the defence.
But MOM I feel must go to Stephen Duffin, breaking the deadlock and then coming up with the goods at the critical moment. A superb performance.