Cookstown 4 Lisnagarvey 4
A stunning second half performance from Cookstown was simply not enough last Wednesday evening at Coolnafranky.
It was a pulsating tie that swung one way then the next and in the end the win could have gone to either side.
The destiny of the league title is now out of their hands as Garvey need a win from their final game against Annadale to retain the championship
Cookstown started the stronger and put the home defence under pressure but could not find a way past visiting keeper Tormey.
However, it was the away side that grabbed the lead when Forrest was on hand to tap home. Cookstown re-grouped and from their penalty corner, grabbed the equaliser. The returning Ian Sloan saw his intial drag well saved but Timmy Smyth was on hand to tap home.
This goal seemed to buoy the home side as they went in search of a second. Another error in the midfield proved costly as Garvey cut through the home defence. Forrest saw his original effort brilliantly cleared off the line by Rollins.
However, MacNiece was on hand to give Garvey the lead. 2-1 to the visitors. Things got steadily worse for the Reds. A crash ball into the circle was deflected by Buser past Hughes to put Garvey 3 -1 up at the break.
Despite trailing by two goals, Cookstown and their support still thought that the game was still there for the taking. However, this soon altered as within five minutes of the restart, Arbuthnot slotted home with a soft effort from a penalty corner.
Cookstown now had to go for broke and Ian Sloan marked his return with a well taken goal. The schoolboy drifted past three defenders before playing a smart one two with Miller and sliding the ball past Tormey.
Cookstown were now hustling Garvey and worked hard to gain possession making it hard for the visitors to make inroads into the Cookstown half. Ball carriers now had more and better options as they kept up the tempo and pressure.
During a scramble in the Garvey circle Ryan Miller got the final touch to bring Cookstown right back in the game. Garvey were now relying on the odd counter attack but Matthew Rollins was having a good game and dealt well with anything that came his way.
With less than 5 minutes remaining the Reds were awarded a free just outside the 25 yard line. Andy Barbour found Gareth Cuddy who swept the ball first time across the circle for Greg Allen to dive at the back post to make the game all square. A brilliant come-back from the Reds who still had plans to win the game.
In their efforts to get all 3 points Cookstown almost fell to a sucker punch. Bell had a snap shot saved by Hughes and when the rebound fell again to Bell he snatched at the chance and it went wide. With a minute remaining Greg Allen tried the lob the advancing keeper and from his saved effort Allen found Ryan Miller who just couldn’t get a decent connection with the goal at his mercy.
All in all a really enjoyable game to watch but one in which Cookstown should have collected all the points.