The Reds kept their unbeaten run going with another big win in the Ulster Premier League against Kilkeel.
Straight from the start the Reds had the bit between their teeth and it was obvious that the team wanted the put the previous week’s disappointing performance behind them.
In the first minute Cookstown won a penalty corner and Greg Allen opened the scoring from the set piece. The visiting keeper then saved a Stuart Smyth reverse effort to keep his side in the game.
A great run from Willie Annett then had the Cookstown defence in all sorts of bother and his cross across the face of Hughes’s goal just evaded a couple of onrushing forwards.
The game was only ten minutes old, but it was end to end stuff with both sides playing good open attacking hockey.
Kilkeel drew level with a well taken goal midway through the half. A through ball was played into Cookstown’s circle and David Finlay beat Hughes to the ball and netted with a sweet half volley strike.
However, from that minute until the very last minute of the game Cookstown completely bossed the game. They were first to the ball and quicker in speed of thought than their opponents and visiting keeper Morris put in a great performance to keep the scoreline respectable.
The Reds regained the lead from their fourth penalty corner with Gareth Cuddy finding the net. From their next set piece, Andy Barbour watched his effort rebound off the post.
The lead was increased when Greg Allen notched his tenth goal of the season and when hockey is played like this it’s a pleasure to watch.
Ewan Butler found the over-lapping Paul Thompson with a great disguised slap pass and the rookie beat his man and made head-way into the circle before drawing the keeper and squaring to Allen to tap home...a brilliant three man move.
Godfrey Irwin had a good solid game as he stepped forward ahead of the back three and put in some great tackles to snuff out any Kilkeel attacks.
Cookstown totally dominated the second half and Simon Todd won a penalty corner straight from the restart but Barbour’s effort went narrowly wide. Allen, Barbour and Smyth all had efforts either saved or off target.
Smyth got in on the goal scoring when he beat the keeper with a trademark reverse strike. Jon Ames had a good run which resulted in a penalty corner and Todd found the backboards to put the Reds 5-1 up.
Another Smyth reverse strike was helped into the net by Barbour who scored another in quick succession when he followed up a Stephen Sloan effort.
From their twelfth penalty corner of the game Butler supplied the finishing touch to make it 8-1. Never the most prolific goalscorer, it was the diminutive defender’s first goal since December 2011.
In the last minute Cookstown shipped a really sloppy goal. A defensive clearance from Kilkeel came off a Cookstown stick around the halfway line and the ball was inexplicably allowed to run over the bye line for a Kilkeel long corner. From there the ball was worked into the Cookstown circle and eventually bundled over the line for Kilkeel’s second goal.