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Press Release - 01/12/1996

East Antrim Hockey Club
01 December 1996

For further information, contact:
Stephen Swann
Press Release Officer - East Antrim Hockey Club
34 Carnmoney Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 6HP
078 0316 7731
stephen@eastantrim.co.uk


EAST ANTRIM V WANDERERS

After a weeks rest due to the inclement weather at Coleraine, East Antrim returned to action with what seemed to be a severely understrength team. Watson, McDonald, Caldwell and Higginson were all missing with their boots being filled by the Belfast Royal Academy trio Kerr, Haggan and Kay - the squad played without a substitute for the first time this season.

Because it was Irish Junior Cup day, official umpires were not present thus enabling Ken Skelton, East Antrim club chairman, to express himself with the whistle. The game began with East Antrim in confident mood - Hull, Burgess and Haggan were very effective on the right flank. Indeed it was almost 15 minutes before Wanderers managed a threatening attack. Pressure was duly rewarded when Alan Burgess converted a penalty corner.

East Antrim's inability to concentrate after taking the lead in games was their downfall again on Saturday, when straight from the restart Wanderers managed to waltz into the East Antrim penalty circle. A mis-hit shot from Redpath didn't look as if it would trouble Simon Hunter in-between the posts, but the ball managed to sneak its way into the net. A shaky 5 minutes ensued for the East Antrim defence as the confidence of the first stage of the game disappeared.

Veteran Hughes managed to find more space in the remainder of the first half and was unlucky not to get is name on the scoresheet. Hull upped the tempo and managed to earn his side a string of penalty corners - with no luck. The half ended 1-1 with East Antrim, again on top.

The second half began in typical fashion for the home team. Despite the majority of the pressure in the first half, East Antrim managed to gift Wanderers the lead. It was Wanderers that started to press on the East Antrim goal, but poor finishing a some outstanding clearances from Hunter and left-back Alan Murphy, kept the score-line at 2-1.

With only 15 minutes remaining Burgess decided to take the game by the scruff of the neck. He created openings for Hermon, Hughes and Browne. Like the East Antrim defence, the goal-line clearances were superb, but the keeper could do nothing about the equalising goal. Again from Burgess and again from a set-piece routine after a penalty corner award.

As the final seconds passed, it was East Antrim that looked more likely to come away as victors, but on reflection anything other than a draw would have been scandalous. The final score of 2-2 keeps both teams in the hunt in the top four of the Intermediate League.

Club Captain, Stephen Swann, praised his team for the way that they fought back from 2-1 down: "In the past, we would have folded at that point. I have seen us end up losing by 3 or 4 goals, so it is nice to fight back and earn a point. Our first half chances should have put the game beyond Wanderers reach, however."

Next week's encounter against table-topping South Antrim, also at the Valley Leisure Centre, should be a real challenge for the youngsters from Glengormley.

Ballysillan Leisure Centre saw East Antrim 2nd XI take on a strong Annadale team whose team sheet read like a 'Who's Who' of Ulster hockey from days gone by. Not having lost a league match at home for 14 months, however, was a record that was going to be very difficult to end. Colin Black took his goal tally to 14 with two strikes despite having missed a penalty stroke. Stephen Duffin scored the other in a 3-1 victory in what team captain, Rab Gibson, described as their toughest match this season.

"We should get promoted if we can keep playing like that - I'm still on a high after that result" he said in the pub later that night.