Press Release - 26/10/1997
East Antrim Hockey Club
26 October 1997
For further information, contact:
Press Release Officer - East Antrim Hockey Club
34 Carnmoney Road, Newtownabbey, BT36 6HP
078 0316 7731
LAST GASP EQUALISER SALVAGES POINT FOR EAST
East Antrim 2nd XI took on an Instonians 4th XI at the Valley Leisure Centre in a Junior League 4 clash. The two teams played a pre-season friendly just 6 weeks previous, with Instonians being victors on that occasion by a margin of 4 goals to 2.
East Antrim captain, Simon Hunter, was without the services of Messrs. Black, Duffin and new boy Bob Watters. George Armstrong was drafted into the centre-forward position and John Baker moved into the midfield. The game flowed from end to end without either team making the necessary incisions to puncture either keeper's defences. Whilst Instonians had the neater approach work, it was East Antrim that seemed to be breaking with more bite.
The half-time scoreline of 0-0 summed up a relatively uneventful first half. The second half, however, was much more different. Instonians, who always looked dangerous from penalty corners, took the lead with a perfectly executed one. Moments later, the lead was increased to 2-0 when the ball found its way into the back of the net following a controversial umpiring decision.
With only 10 minutes remaining, East Antrim looked dead and buried. Baker, excelling in midfield, had different plans. When he sent a right wing cross into the Instonians danger area, Graeme Reid collected, controlled and fired home his first goal for the 2nd XI. Within 1 minute of the restart, Baker once again sent in another dangerous cross. On this occasion it was Peter Darragh who collected and controlled, but his effort went just inches wide of the post.
With Instonians reeling from the relentless last minute pressure, Leon Currie was reintroduced to the fray. Almost with his first touch, he could have brought the game level, but saw his shot well saved. With seconds of the game remaining, it was Baker once again who forged down the right wing and sent a telling cross to the back post. Currie was on hand to pop the ball over the diving keeper and into the back of the net.
Currie's shot was actually the last touch of the ball during the match as the final whistle blew to end the game standing at 2-2.
Simon Hunter spoke after the game about the fightback he had witnessed. "Junior 4 is a very tight league indeed. No team can afford to lose points needlessly. To avoid relegation, a team is going to need to earn itself somewhere in the region of 15 points. With some of our star players missing this season, I thought we would achieve that target, but it would be very difficult."
"To come from 2 goals down to salvage a point is very satisfying. We have some young players here who could have folded when trailing. With gutsy performances like that each week, we should achieve our target in advance of the season's end."
Man of the Match award went to John Baker who, despite his aging body, was still capable of teaching the younger players on the pitch a lesson on hockey.
East Antrim 2nd XI team : S. Hunter, B. Reid, G. Hooks, I. McStea, R. White, P. Darragh, J. Baker, T. Browne, R. McCullough, G. Armstrong, L. Currie, G. Reid
3rd XI Knocked For Six
East Antrim 3rd XI went into their Junior League 7 clash with an unbeaten record. An in-form Cookstown team, however, was intent on spoiling the run and set about their task in swift and decisive fashion.
Darren Martin's team were struggling from the outset as they lacked their normal cohesiveness. With a couple of players missing from the game, they never looked like causing their visitors any damage and looked quite suspect in defence.
The half-time scoreline of 3-0 was equalled in the second half to leave the East Antrim players bewildered.
"We need someone to settle things in midfield, and a forward who knows where the goals are" said Martin afterwards. "We have too many players playing for themselves and not for the betterment of the team."