Cookstown hosted the McCullough Cup runners up, Friends School, at Steelweld park in horrendous conditions.
Despite this, the boys started sharply applying high pressure to the Friends defence constantly putting their platform under pressure. This resulted in the first penalty corner of the match being awarded to Cookstown. When a trademark Scott Nelson drag flick was deflected into the body of the first runner, a second short corner was awarded and this time a well worked 1-2 between Callum Anderson and Tony Johnston resulted in Anderson flicking the ball past the opposing keeper.
With relentless pressure on the Freinds goal, the Irish u18 keeper James Millikan was forced to make several saves to keep his team in the match before Cookstown doubled their advantage through open play. A crash ball from Ryan Donaldson, with a deflection from Timmy Sloan ended with Anderson getting the final touch to double Cookstown’s lead.
After the break, Friends came out pressing hard, isolating younger players Brett McConnell and Jonny Wensley but both players dealt well with this pressure and held firm. Soon after, Cookstown struck again with Anderson getting onto the end of a through ball from Tony Johnston to “nutmeg” the on rushing keeper to put Cookstown up 3-0, and cruising towards a solid win.
Unfortunately Cookstown couldn’t keep their defensive discipline and hold onto to their clean sheet and they conceded a sloppy goal in the closing minutes. Overall this was a pleasing performance and the tests keep coming when Cookstown face a strong Methody side next Saturday.
Cookstown HS: J. Anderson, Sloan, Nelson, Kerr, Wensley, Donaldson, I. Johnston, T. Johnston, Miller, C. Anderson, Carson, McConnell, Harper
COOKSTOWN HS U14 1
FRIENDS LISBURN 1
Friends battled the elements on Saturday morning as they made the trip to Coolnafranky to play the last ever match on the sand based hockey pitch.
However, it seemed that the game may not have ever got started as a lot of the pitch had been flooded by the rain over night. Thanks to the good brushing techniques of Mr. Haycock, Mr. Kerr and Mr. Miller, who were able to clear the water as well as compensate for Mr. Crooks’ bad brushing skills, the game did get underway on time.
In the first half Cookstown allowed the cold, wet weather to affect their play as they failed to get any rhythm or string any passes together. Turnovers in midfield were becoming the order of the day and Friends were able to pick up the ball and create lots of chaces. Josh McCabe was called upon on a number of occasions to keep Cookstown in the game, and he did that until half time.
After some stern words at half time from the coaching staff Cookstown began to find their groove. Jack Haycock was marshaling his troops well from the back and was beginning to find Scott McCabe in midfield who was a star performer on the day for Cookstown.
McCabe was linking up well with the front three of Cole Chambers, Troy Chambers and Adam Watson, Watson in particular making some greats runs to pick up the ball. It was from one of these runs that Watson was able to link up with the dynamic Danny Kerr who found himself in the circle to unleash a reverse which gave Cookstown the lead.
Lee McCrea was having a solid game at the back, and with great support from Matty Glendinning in front of him in midfield, Cookstown continued to make chances but couldn’t find another goal. As time was running out Friends broke down the right hand side and the Friends forward squeezed the ball past McCabe in nets to leave the score at 1 – 1 at the final whistle.
A fair result in the end, but Cookstown will not fear Friends if they face them in the Ferris Cup, and if the boys maintain the standard they set themselves in the second half, they will be the team to beat coming to the later part of the season.
CHS U14:Joshua McCabe, Jack Haycock, Matthew Glendinning, Gareth McCrea, Robert Turkington, Scott McCabe , Danny Kerr, Adam Watson, Cole Chambers, Dylan Whinnery, Lee McCrea, Troy Chambers
COOKSTOWN HS U13 0
FRIENDS LISBURN 2
This was a closely fought affair between two of the top U13 teams in Ulster. Friends have been unbeaten all year and are favourites to lift the Bannister Bowl.
Cookstown were slow to start and Friends dictated the play with the Cookstown boys struggling to get hold of the ball and get a foot hold in the game. Jake Robinson made a few crucial saves early on in the half but was powerless to prevent Friends from taking the lead after Cookstown failed to set up properly and mark their men.
This was the catalyst that the boys needed and sweeper Matthew Glendinning started to find his midfielders who were then able to find their forwards. Tom Black and Callum Scott linked well together and were able to gain good territory and release the pace of Robert Turkington down the right hand side.
This combination always looked dangerous and created a number of scoring opportunities which were either saved or went narrowly wide.
The second half saw Cookstown continue trying to push for an equaliser and elude the well organised press set up by the Friends forwards. It was this press that forced an interception and allowed. Friends to extend their lead with a shot high into the net. Cookstown couldn’t get on the scoresheet but can take positives from the result as there was very little between the two teams.
CHS U13: Jake Robinson, Matthew Glendinning (c), Tom Black, Jack Scott, Christopher Knipe, Robert Turkington, James Warwick, Malik Hodgson, Callum Scott, Patrick Slaine, Robert Acheson, Callum Hogshaw