Cookstown II pulled off the result of the round in the Irish Junior Cup with a 3-2 victory over favourites Annadale at Steelweld Park on Saturday.
Only a week before, the Carryduff men had condemned the Reds to a 4-0 hammering in the league and, in their first league meeting of the year, Annadale had shown their brilliance with a 7-2 win.
But those two results were for naught on Saturday when the Reds came out all guns firing in horrendous weather conditions.
Controlling a great deal of possession, Cookstown took the lead with a brilliantly worked goal by Andy Smyth. Ian Hutchinson seemed to have picked out Richard Nelson with a pinpoint pass, but the forward had spotted the run of Smyth and casually stepped over the ball, allowing his teammate to run one-on-one with the ‘Dale keeper. Smyth’s finish was sublime, beating the keeper with a stunning reverse.
As the rain turned to sleet and then to hail, Cookstown continued to defend hard and attack on the break. From one such move, Tony Johnston took a quick free and picked out Raymond Miller’s run beyond the ‘Dale defensive line. The Stewartstown man was in on goal but cleverly squared to Ryan Millar rather than test the keeper himself and Cookstown found themselves 2-0 up at the break.
Annadale, bouyed by experienced international players David Smyth and Chris Jackson, were a different team in the second period and adopted a deeper forward line. Given more space to turn, the Carryduff speedsters began to make ground and pile the pressure on the Cookstown defence.
From one such attack they were able to cross the ball and, after a series of deflections, it dropped kindly for Chris Jackson to clatter the ball past Josh Anderson in the Reds’ goal.
Minutes later the Cookstown netminder was called into action again, saving low to his right from a Paul Jackson short corner effort. Unfortunately he was beaten minutes later by the same player to make it 2-2.
Annadale were certainly having their purple patch in the game and threw numbers forward in search of a winner. However, they left themselves open to Cookstown’s counter and once again it was the combination of Raymond Miller and Tony Johnston who put the nail in Annadale’s coffin. Johnston’s miss hit cross somehow found it’s way through to Miller who beat the keeper close to his feet to make it 3-2. Unfortunately for Annadale there was not even time to restart the game.
Cookstown now progress to a quarter-final meeting against rivals Banbridge at Havelock Park. Last season, the team’s met in the semi-finals with Banbridge progressing on a score line of 6-5.
Banbridge ended Cookstown’s chances of winning the league with 4-1 defeat, thanks to two goals from Stephen Dowds and one each from Owen Magee and Simon Magowan, with a consolation goal from Mark Crooks.