Twos well beaten on the road to Kilkeel, while Threes awesome in Antrim

Kilkeel II 2 Cookstown II 0

AN UNDERSTRENGTH Cookstown made the long trip to the Mournes on Saturday and were condemned to their second defeat of the league season by a motivated Kilkeel.

Shorn of eight players, Cookstown were able to award a debut to Paul Morrow at right back and he took his chance by putting in a man of the match performance, despite being on the wrong side of the result.

Cookstown were obviously disrupted by the number of changes, but in patches looked good in the first half when they used the ball without crafting any clear cut opportunities.

However, the second half was a different story with the Reds showing little desire after Kilkeel’s early breakaway goal. Davey Atkinson had Cookstown’s best chance, bringing a brilliant save out of the home keeper from the set piece, before Richard Nelson went close midway through the half.

Mistakes, loose passing and bad marking dogged Cookstown’s attempt at getting back into the game before a long flick from deep within the Kilkeel half beat the defence and allowed a forward to round Anderson and slot home from the tight angle.

Cookstown II: Michael Anderson, Paul Morrow, David Atkinson, Daniel Crooks, Mark Wilson, Gavin Butler, Andrew Mcwhirter, Richard Nelson, Philip Morton, Paul Watt, Mitchell Greer and Scott Nelson

Man of the Match: Paul Morrow

South Antrim II 1 Cookstown III 2

Cookstown travelled to South Antrim on Saturday with four starting players missing due to the schoolboys playing in the All Irelands. But some quality was pulled into place in a few areas in the form of Brian Simpson, Callum Anderson (a schoolboy that isn’t wrapped in cottonwool) and ex-Cookstown ace in the form or Nippy Hamilton who has recently returned for a heavily decorated playing career in Switzerland.

The team that faced Cookstown in the warm-up looked sharp so captain McGaw outlined his tactics before the game...don’t let them play and we will hit them on the break with pace up front...well, pace from the wingers!

After 15 minutes Cookstown forced a way through with McGaw setting up Anderson for a great deflect goal. This left Cookstown one up at the break, this wasn’t for the want of trying as the two umpires tried their hardest to unsettle the Reds with a few interesting decisions.

Cookstown regrouped at half time and came out in the second half battling their defence holding out and making some last gasp tackles with Henry stood strong in nets! With 15 minutes remaining in the second half Cookstown’s hard work paid off and Alistair Thom thumped home a tremendous drag flick into the roof!

The homeside could only pull one back and Cookstown where triumphant! A great three points for the Redsocks!

Cookstown: Henry, Michael Millar, Nippy Hamilton, Ian Hagan, Simpson, G Thom, A Thom, QuickDraw, Matt Smyth, C Anderson , Hutchinson

Man of the Match: A Henry

Cookstown IV 2 Raphoe III 1

Cookstown IV took to the pitch at Coolnafranky on a cold Friday evening last week to face a struggling Raphoe team who are lying perilously close to the drop zone in Junior League 3.

The Reds knew that they couldn’t afford to lose a second home match in a row after the previous weeks defeat by Bangor and straight from the push back, Cookstown took control of the game.

Their passing was much improved from their previous outing and looked dangerous attacking down both flanks. It wasn’t long before chances started to fall to the rotating forward line in red. Crooks and McGaw both went close with reverse stick shots, well saved by the youthful Raphoe keeper.

The break through inevitably came after a great searching ball from McGaw was picked up by McAllen on the overlap from rightback. The defender did well to penetrate the dee and win the home side’s first short corner which was dispatched by McWhirter.

The Cookstown back four was well disciplined and dealt with any counter attacks efficiently, allowing the midfield of Morrow, McWhirter and H. Stewart to boss the game. You wouldn’t have guessed it was Henry Stewart’s first game of the season, as he popped up all over the pitch winning back possession for Cookstown.

String Stewart went close after a ball was crashed to the back post, unlucky not to connect. Great play from C. Hutchinson led to another short for Cookstown and despite a misplaced pull out, Hutch adjusted well and sent the ball low into the corner to give the home team some breathing space before half time.

The team knew what was coming in the second half so some fresh legs were brought on to combat any Raphoe fightback. As expected, Raphoe came out guns blazing after the restart but the calm heads of Cookstown held strong. More chances fell to Crooks, McGaw and Stewart with the visiting keeper pulling off save after save.

G. Thom even ventured into the dee and got his shot away, unable to find the back of the net. With less than 10 minutes to go, Raphoe caught Cookstown on the break and some confusion at the back led to a goal. 2-1 and the momentum swung greatly to the visitors. They won numerous short corners putting the reds under serious pressure but they stayed strong and weathered the storm to see out the rather nervy last 5 minutes.

A good win and the team should be encouraged by the number of chances created, a much improved performance than previous weeks. Thanks to Brian Thom for umpiring.

Cookstown: Gillis, McAllen, Simpson, Ruddock, Reilly, H. Stewart, McWhirter, Morrow, Hutchinson, Crooks, Stewart, Thom, McGaw, Atkinson, Anderson