Good start to season for Cookstown

Cookstown HC's Simon Todd fires across goal on Saturday

Cookstown HC's Simon Todd fires across goal on Saturday

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Cookstown 7

Annadale 0

But it was Andy Smyth’s squad that started the sharpest of the two sides with Cookstown looking lacklustre during the opening exchanges.

Ian Hughes was able to prevent the away side from going ahead while the Cookstown outfield struggled to get over a stream of unforced errors early on.

Despite the early Annadale attack, the Red Socks managed to score first when Raymond Miller slotted home around the flick spot after a fine bit of individual build up from Stu Smyth. Smyth then managed to turn goalscorer shortly before the half-time hooter when he calmly beat the first Annadale runner and aimed low off a penalty corner.

Coming out of the break, with Cookstown heads settled, the side pressed on for further goals and managed to convert another two penalty corners; the first of which Andy Barbour hammered home off a switch pass before Stuart Smyth grabbed his second of the game with a straight drag low to the keeper’s right.

The game became a one-sided affair as the goals tallied with the most of the play being contained in Annadale’s half. Millsey grabbed another striker’s goal off a Simon Todd long ball to the back post before Jon Ames reversed home during a frantic goal mouth scramble.

Ewan Butler completed proceedings deflecting home off a distant Andy Barbour pass ending the scoreline at a very convincing 7-0 to Cookstown.

Speaking after the game CHC Captain Greg Allen said: “We have been working very hard on our defensive game and it was very pleasing not to concede against Annadale. Our primary focus was defense and to score seven was just a bonus.”

Cookstown 1st XI 6

Newry 2

Newry arrived at a sunny Steelweld Park on Saturday afternoon for what would be their first Premier League fixture in 15 years after gaining promotion via an unbeaten season in Senior One last year.

Cookstown started the brighter of the two sides, building on their second half performance against Annadale during the week, and were therefore surprised when it was Newry who broke the deadlock after 17 minutes. A swift counter-attack and long ball into the circle was deflected in by an unmarked Newry attacker.

Quickly putting the defensive lapse behind them, Cookstown continued on offence and were rewarded with a string of quick goals through Captain, Greg Allen.

The first saw Allen and Thompson combine with a quick series of passes before Greg made himself space to launch a tomahawk low off the backboard to level the scores. The Woodglen man then completed his brace for the day with a textbook drag high to the keeper’s right hand side.

Despite Cookstown getting themselves back in control of the game, Newry once again took advantage of a defensive error and slapped home shortly before the break after a neat passing move down the right hand side, leaving the teams locked at 2-2 at half-time.

After a quick debrief with coaches Cuddy and Haycock, the Reds began their second half much stronger and won a number of short corners early on. Andrew Barbour finally managed to convert, and give CHC the lead, when a misplaced pull-out reached his strong side only to be hammered low into the bottom left hand corner.

Following the fifth goal of the game, the match up became very open affair with some questionable umpiring decisions leading to green and yellow cards being shown to both teams. Newry continued to seize on counter attacking opportunities and came close to leveling the game only to see an effort hop inches wide.

Andrew Barbour then steadied the ship with his second goal of the game, breaking into the circle to expertly round the Newry GK before slotting home to make it 4-2 with 15 minutes on the clock.

With ten minutes to go, Cookstown’s class and fitness proved vital when they added two more goals to the tally against the out-of-reach Newry side.

Mark Crooks won the ball inside his own half before playing in Mark Rooney, who long handled a high ball to the back post only to be deflected high into the net by Jon Ames.

Ames then turned provider for the final goal of the game, as he collected a Keith Black aerial ball from midfield before passing to Raymond Miller, who made no mistake in slotting home past the committed Newry GK.

Speaking after the game goalscorer Raymond Miller said: “Newry were aggressive, well orgainsed and they made us work very hard for this win. They are sure to cause some upsets this season but we were very pleased with our second half performance and the way we defended.”

The Reds continue their Kirk Cup campaign on Tuesday night at Havelock where they take on Banbridge HC.