Cookstown HC claim point in key EYHL relegation scrap against Annadale

Ian Hughes
Ian Hughes
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Ian Hughes was the hero as Cookstown made it seven points from their last nine available after picking up a 2-2 draw at Annadale.

The big shotstopper from Derryloran made a series of key saves throughout this game, a key battle to avoid the relegation spaces.

The Carryduff men started well, Robbie McGuire’s outstanding stickwork only foiled by goalkeeper Ian Hughes. Connor Roberts’ reverse stick effort was also capably dealt with by the Cookstown ‘keeper.

Annadale’s Matthew Allister opened the scoring in the 12th minute with a strong shot from left circle for a 1-0 lead at quarter time. Cookstown got into the tie in the second quarter with Mark Crooks going close from their first attack and they equalised in the 19th minute when Timmy Sloan fired in an accurate shot for 1-1.

The match continued in a much more exciting vein than the previous week’s dour encounter in Tyrone. Cookstown’s clever penalty corner variation in the 25th minute went narrowly past Jonny Moore’s right hand post during a fine period for the Cookstown men.

On the break, Hughes was again called into action to turn Roberts’ reverse shot over the bar and then block an Allister effort.

Early in the second half, Simon Todd won two penalty corners for Cookstown but they proved fruitless and then Moore had to be alert to save a Cookstown snapshot above his head.

Ryan Millar put the Reds ahead snapping up a smart rebound in the 41st minute.

Three minutes later, though, Peter McKibbin equalised for Annadale after some sustained pressure to make it 2-2.

It set up a tense final quarter. Moore saved well from Millar as both teams looked for the winner before two late penalty corners for Annadale broke down and, to the home side’s disappointment, Matthew Crookshanks diving effort flashed just wide.

Hughes then turned McGuire’s shot over the bar before Annadale won a prolongation penalty corner. James Cox’s shot was saved by Hughes to keep it honours even.

The result of this back match means both sides remain where they were with Cookstown in ninth, but now just two points off Cork. Just three weeks ago the Reds had been eight points from safety.