Cookstown 1 Kilkeel 1
COOKSTOWN will regard this game as points lost and it brings to an end their five game winning streak.
The result has put a dent in their title aspirations but they will looking to recover from this setback with a positive result at Harlequins.
There is no denying that Kilkeel came to defend, play with everyone behind the ball, and hope to hit Cookstown on the break. The game was 5 minutes old when Stephen Sloan put over a bouncing and bobbling cross which evaded two defenders but also hopped over Greg Allen’s stick at the back post.
Two minutes later and controversy reigned. A cross from the right was expertly deflected past the keeper and into the net by Gareth Cuddy. The Reds and their supporters celebrated, Kilkeel accepted they were a goal down, but umpire McCully pointed to the long corner spot deeming that the ball had come off a defender’s stick.
Kilkeel knew that this was a let-off and a Willie Annett reverse effort just shaved Hughes’s post. A great run from Andy Barbour found Greg Allen in the circle and the young forward deftly lifted the ball over the advancing keeper, however, a covering defender just got the toe of his stick to the ball to deflect wide.
Cookstown kept pushing forward and won four penalty corners which were all fruitless. With ten minutes until the half was up Hughes saved brilliantly from a Johnny Aiken reverse strike. Two minutes left and a Raymond Miller cross was deflected high across the circle to the back post where an inrushing Greg Allen met the ball shoulder high , but yet again his effort was cleared off the line. On the half time whistle Cookstown won their fifth penalty corner and Andy Barbour scored with a direct strike.
Kilkeel had to come forward now and they won their first penalty corner which was well saved by Hughes. The Reds continued to attack and Mark Crooks hit the post after good work from Timmy Smyth. The visitors almost grabbed an equaliser when an effort hit the post, ran along the goal line and hit the other post before being cleared to safety by Euan Butler. Kilkeel were content to break down play and accept a green card in order to get men behind the ball. However, a mis-timed tackle by Andy Barbour led to him receiving a yellow card and 5 minutes in the sin bin.
In their next attack Kilkeel equalised when Johnny Aiken found time and space in front of Hughes to slot home. Cookstown immediately attacked searching for the winner and during a melee in the Kilkeel circle with umpire McBride waving play on, Ryan Miller hammered the ball into the net.
The goal was awarded and Cookstown retreated to the halfway line waiting for Kilkeel to restart the game. Kilkeel appealed, the umpire waved them away, then consulted with his fellow umpire and controversially the goal was disallowed.
With time running out Cookstown’s play became more frantic as they searched for the winner but they were almost caught out when Kilkeel won a penalty corner which they squandered.
On the full time whistle The Reds won a penalty corner which unfortunately came to nothing and the spoils were shared.
The Reds continue their cramped league campaign with games away to Harlequins during the week, and at NICS next Saturday.