Banbridge IV 3
Cookstown IV 4
On a miserable Saturday afternoon, Cookstown made the journey to Havelock Park for their Junior Cup match with the view to extract revenge on League leaders, Bannbridge.
Bann have beaten Cookstown twice already this season in the league as well as injuring captain, Crooks and right-back, Major in the first encounter forcing them to miss some important games.
With the Reds, playing in white, back to full strength and on a decent run of results, they took the game to Bann from the start. Early chances fell to Greer and Stewart but it was Allen in the centre of the park who was controlling the game, finding his team mates time and time again.
With the Fours playing the best hockey they have all year, it wasn’t long before they found a breakthrough with Allen crashing a perfect ball into the dee for young Sloan to nip in front of the Keeper to make it 1-0.
The game then turned on it’s head when the umpiring decisions descended into chaos, with poor decisions going against both teams. It was a poor decision that was to lead to a Bann equalizer. With no sign of the Cookstown player’s heads going down, they continued to play their own game and almost immediately Sloan popped up in the dee again to steal back the lead for histeam again.
Before the break a through ball from midfield looked to be comfortable for the Bann keeper to clear, but the sheer acceleration of Greer moving up through the gears was a sight to behold as he won the ball with time to spare making it easy to round the keeper and pass the ball into an empty net.
With the score 3-1 to Cookstown at half time, the team knew that the game was far from over and set about the second half looking for another goal to secure the victory. With the defence looking comfortable, it was Allen again who turned on the style as he smashed ball after ball to the back post, with new club member, Carson going closest.
It was Allen himself who added to the goals with a reverse shot finding the corner of the net. Now at 4-1 and Bann desperate for a way back into the game, the umpiring went from bad to plain biased. Every decision seemed to be going against the visitors which forced them deeper and deeper into their own half.
Bann’s pressure finally paid off as they found two goals to really test Cookstown’s resolve. Some heroic saves by Gillis and last ditch tackles by Thom, Morrow and Simpson kept their team ahead and Ruddock did well to find the opposite end of the pitch numerous times to relieve pressure on the back four.
With seconds to go and Cookstown on the break, looking likely to create a goal scoring opportunity, the umpire blew the final whistle, sending Cookstown into the next round of the Cup!
After beating on of the favourites to lift the trophy, the Fours are now full of confidence and look forward to their final league game this Saturday, home against Campbellians at 4pm.
Cookstown: A. Gillis, B. Simpson, N. Ruddock, G. Thom, P. Morrow, P. Watt, S. Allen, S. Stewart, M. Crooks, M. Greer, T. Sloan, A. Carson, G. Major.
Man of the Match: Ashley Gillis