Cookstown travelled to Shawsbridge last Saturday in a match that will go along way to deciding who will finish third in the Premier League.
In horrible conditions, it was the home side that looked the stronger in the opening encounters and they were soon one goal up. McNeice was given too much room in the circle and he guided a shaft hit reverse neatly into the far corner past Hughes. One nil down inside 5 minutes was not the start the Reds were after.
On twenty minutes the Reds were level. Keith Black overlapped from left back and he was found with a neat pass from Jon Ames. The Irish International pounced on it hitting it first time past the Instonian net minder.
Cookstown could only keep the score on level terms for three minutes. William Robinson followed up his drag flick at a penalty corner with a neat open sided chip past Hughes into the right hand side of the net to give the home side a one goal advantage.
On 26 minutes Cookstown were back all square. Good work by Simon Todd on the baseline found and unmarked Paul Thompson on the flick spot. Thompson’s goal bound effort was well saved but the rebound was well finished by Raymond Miller.
Cookstown conceded a third goal at an awful time right on the stoke of half time. Robinson was given too much room in the circle and he blasted home his 15th goal of the season with a well hit open side shot into the bottom left of the goal.
After the break the Reds were back on level terms. Raymond Miller showing well and on collection of the ball he found an unmarked Stuart Smyth who calmly rounded the keeper and pushed home to make the score 3-3.
The remaining 18 minutes Cookstown only had themselves to blame for losing the game. On 55 minutes they lost possession of the ball in the left corner, Kirk then was able to find an unmarked Corry who finished from nine yards.
Two minutes later and Inst were awarded a penalty stroke for a stick tackle. This gave William Robinson an opportunity to complete his hat trick. He flicked home confidently to Hughes’ left hand side.
The game fizzled out with Cookstown forcing some opportunities but the damage was already done and it was obvious that Inst would secure all three points.
Coach Stephen Cuddy commented, “This is probably our most disappointing result of the season, we drew level three times but lost our discipline at 3-3 and credit to Inst they took their chances when we were not at out best.
“It is frustrating when performances like that come along, we cannot fault the players in training they have been working hard but on Saturday we gave quality players too much time in the circle and we were punished.
“We have been speaking a lot on being difficult to score against, but when you look at our goals against column against the top sides it does not make good reading. We have to take collective responsibility for this and try and improve or else the IHL (Irish Hockey League) will be a very difficult six weeks for us.
“We were unfortunate with our squad last week and finished the game with 12 fit players. rotation is essential at the top level and we were unable to give players needed breaks and you could see that we finished the game with little spark or energy.
“We will play better than we played on Saturday we are confident of that. We had an excellent run out against the Ulster U21s on Monday night and that got Saturday’s game out of our system.
“Our next game isn’t until the 19th February giving us plenty of time to try and work on things in training and it gives us an opportunity to right wrongs from Saturday. “