Press Release - 21/09/1997
East Antrim Hockey Club
21 September 1997
For further information, contact:
Press Release Officer - East Antrim Hockey Club
34 Carnmoney Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 6HP
078 0316 7731
SEASON OPENER BOOSTS CONFIDENCE
The Intermediate Cup was the competition, Crossgar was the opposition and Lough Moss the venue - in theory a win for East Antrim, but always a tricky combination due to the unorthodox style of play that has become Crossgar's hallmark.
Having been put through their paces by 91 times capped, Paul Cooke, during a coaching session three days previous, East Antrim 1st XI were hoping to employ some of the tips they had learnt during the game. Indeed all the signs of a much improved team were there for all to see. David Caldwell and Adam McDonald were in sparkling form in the middle of the pitch, whilst the off-the-ball running of Alan Burgess and Neal Hermon caused Crossgar endless problems.
The game also saw the first competitive hockey match in Ulster for East Antrim's new found Australian - Nathaniel Bane. Bane has fitted into the 1st XI with great ease, and has already found the goal-scoring touch during pre-season friendlies and six-a-side tournaments during the summer.
After 15 minutes of the one-sided contest, East Antrim finally broke the deadlock when Burgess fired home after some attractive approach work from the East Antrim midfield. The goal seemed to settle the team into a comfortable rhythm - moments later Adam McDonald linked with Hermon who turned past the Crossgar sweeper to find himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Hermon, however, was swiftly felled from behind and Caldwell put away the resulting penalty stroke.
The 2-0 scoreline at half-time flattered Crossgar, so East Antrim set about increasing their lead. Rab Gibson was introduced into the game and Scott Higginson moved to left wing. The change seemed to work wonders as Higginson found himself in good scoring positions, only to be foiled by a keeper in excellent form. The third goal did arrive, however, when Higginson danced around two defenders to slot the ball past the keeper only to see another defender take the ball of the line with a foot. Caldwell, once again, stepped up to score his second penalty stroke of the evening.
A fourth goal, and a second for Burgess, soon followed with possibly the best move of the match - 7 players were involved in what looked like two-touch hockey, splitting the Crossgar defence leaving Burgess an open goal.
Captain, Stephen Swann, remarked after the game: "I'm very pleased with both the result and the performance. 4-0 flattered Crossgar, but it suits us - hopefully we will not get too carried away with the scoreline. I only hope that the things we have learned will be employed during the next 3 Cup games against Eagles, Larne and South Antrim - much stiffer opposition indeed"
The man of the match was awarded to David Caldwell for showing coolness under pressure during the penalty strokes and his all-round approach work in his new midfield position.