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Press Release - 16/02/1997

East Antrim Hockey Club
16 February 1997

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 OMAGH

East Antrim 1st XI played their final home game of the season on Saturday against bottom of the league Omagh. Team captain, Stephen Swann, had the luxury of selecting his starting eleven from his full squad as players returned from injury and other commitments.

Although everyone expected a handsome home victory, the team never really got going as a unit until mid-way through the first half. Raymond Hughes, playing at right-back released vice-captain, Alan Burgess, who proceeded to dribble past four Omagh defenders before unleashing a powerful shot that was always beating the keeper. The goal seemed to calm the nerves of the East Antrim players and it was only a matter of minutes before the second arrived. Good work down the left flank give Neal Hermon the chance to take his goal tally for the season to eight.

Unfortunately, the second goal seemed to signal the end of the match as a contest as East Antrim maintained almost total possession of the ball without ever stepping up one more gear in order to score more goals. A few chances did arrive - Scott Higginson had an effort magnificently turned away by the keeper. Burgess should have scored his second of the match and Tim Browne had a great opportunity, but seemed to dwell on the ball just too long.

An appeal for a penalty stroke was turned down after an Omagh defender deliberately stopped a shot on goal with the back of his stick - a penalty corner was awarded, but East Antrim failed to extend their lead.

The game finished 2-0 to the home team in what was a lethargic end-of-season "going through the motions". Swann said afterwards "The result is important, but I did hope for more goals. I'm at a stage now were I shall be looking at a lot of players throughout the club in an early attempt to gather a squad for next season"

East Antrim - J Hamill, R Hughes, S Swann, A Murphy, A McDonald, A Burgess, A Hull, D Caldwell, D Haggan, N Hermon, M Watson, S Higginson, T Browne

East Antrim 2nd XI traveled to Carryduff to play their nearest rivals for the Junior League 5 title - Annadale. The game started with East Antrim controlling the play and creating the better chances. Mid-way through the first half, Mark Watson was introduced to the game at left wing and had an immediate impact as he latched on to a right wing cross at the back post to score his first goal of the season.

Penalty corner awards did go East Antrim's way, but Colin Black was unable to get many worthwhile shots on target. Team captain, Robert Gibson, was anxious at half-time with the score still at 1-0, but the second half turned into a rout for the visiting team. Gibson himself, scored two goals, both in a similar fashion to Watson's first goal. Watson added to his tally with another two goals to earn his first hat-trick for the club.

East Antrim finished the game in strong fashion and could quite easily have scored more, but the result opens a gap at the top of the league with East Antrim in pole position. Annadale are still their nearest rivals, 3 points behind, and with just four games to go, Gibson is confident that the team will get promoted.

East Antrim 3rd XI were dealt a cruel blow as their promotion hopes were shattered in Kilkeel. Having beaten the Kilkeel team 7-0 earlier in the season, Tom Watson was hoping that a victory would be quite achievable. Despite dominating play, however, East Antrim found the gravel surface unusual and difficult to adapt to. Kilkeel managed to sneak a goal during a rare attack and East Antrim failed in front of goal to end up losing the game by one goal to nil.