This was more like it. This was the performance that the travelling supporters had been waiting for after a couple of indifferent displays from Cookstown.
The Reds could have easily got into double figure territory if they had converted a few more chances. When they play like this, Cookstown are capable of meeting any team in the country.
Although down to a squad of only 13 for this game due to illness and injury, The Reds produced a performance of free flowing attacking hockey with every member playing their part, except Jon Ames who was unable to play as he felt ill after travelling.
The game didn’t start too well for Cookstown as Kilkeel won their first penalty corner in the first minute but Ian Hughes saved well. Cookstown came storming back when Godfrey Irwin found Simon Todd wide on the right at the halfway line. His slap pass to the edge of the circle was swept first time by Greg Allen past the keeper and off the post to safety.
The Reds took the lead from their first penalty corner, Andy Barbour doing the damage with a straight strike. Allen almost doubled the lead but shot wide after doing all the hard work in beating the last defender and the keeeper.
The support didn’t have long to wait, however, for that second goal. Allen, wide on the left, found Ewan Butler and his quick transfer found the onrushing David Best who scored his first goal of the season with a well-placed slapshot.
Another good run from Todd from insdie his own half resulted in his cross just evading Stuart Smyth. Kilkeel still kept huffing and puffing but Hughes was in fine form and made a couple of excellent saves to deny the home side.
Cookstown were far sharper than they have looked in recent weeks, with the ball carrier having plenty of options. At times Kilkeel were chasing shadows as The Reds retained possession with some slick passing.
The third goal came courtesy of a Keith Black penalty stroke after an effort from Best hit a defender on the line. Just before the half time break Hughes again made a good safe and, after a scramble in the circle, the ball rebounded off the post and was eventually cleared.
The Reds kept the momentum going and put in an even better performance in the second half. The defensive central pairing of Godfrey Irwin and Matthew Rollins were able to distribute the ball accurately and their passes were the foundation for most of Cookstown’s attacks. Stephen Sloan put in a good shift in midfield and was always available for his team-mates.
Cookstown further increased their lead when Barbour scored his second of the game after a broken down penalty corner. Best was having a great game at right back and was tormenting the Kilkeel left side. He made another great break down that side before finding Allen who had made up the hard yardage to support him, and Allen cooly placed his flick high into the net for the fifth goal.
Ryan Millar was also having a good game and was combining well with Paul Thompson to set up further chances.
Yet another good break from Todd and his ball to the back post was touched home by Black who had worked hard to get there.
Into the last five minutes and Hughes made a great double save to keep a clean sheet. The final goal of the game was a great team goal after a Kilkeel attack was stopped by Irwin. The ball was carried by Todd, who found the overlapping Best who in turn found Todd again. Todd drew the keeper before slipping the ball to Stu Smyth to score with a reverse push.
Overall a great team performance and a really enjoyable game to watch on a very cold day at the south east coast.