Instonians 4 Cookstown 3
THIS was definitely not the start that Cookstown wanted to their Premier League campaign.
Although they were never ahead, the squad must be wondering just how they didn’t win this game.
The Reds had the major share of possession, had more circle penetration, played the better hockey but yet leaked 4 goals.
Cookstown made the better start and had won their first penalty corner after 5 minutes, however this came to nothing. After a good run by Ian Sloan the ball was crashed into the Inst circle where a diving Timmy Smyth saw his effort go wide. In a rare foray into the Cookstown circle Inst won their first penalty corner. Hughes saved the initial effort, then Rollins dived to take the follow up off the line. Just when it looked as if the danger had been cleared a crash ball found Redpath who scored with a good
The Reds were immediately back in the game. From the push back Ian Sloan chucked an aerial ball for Smyth to control, enter the circle and calmly round the keeper to equalise. With 5 minutes remaining until half time Inst won their second penalty corner and Mark Irwin scored from a well worked switch.
Again The Reds came storming back and scored the goal of the game. Smyth made a great run down the left and his reverse cross was deflected past a static keeper by Cuddy to make the score 2-2 at half time.
Cookstown had played the better hockey and the consensus among the Red Army was that the game was there for the taking. The second half began with Cookstown in the ascendancy and they almost took the lead when Allen crossed for Smyth to glance wide. Two more Cookstown penalty corners came to nothing as The Reds
continued to boss the game. In their first circle penetration of the second half Inst took the lead when Robinson beat Hughes with an effort in a crowded circle, totally against the run of play.
Cookstown then missed a series of chances that on another day would have seen them win the game. Sloan the younger saw his effort saved by Skillen and then Cuddy missed his connection on the goal-line. With temperatures rising and umpiring decisions going against them Cookstown were reduced to 10 men when Black was yellow carded.
However they were given a life line when Ian Sloan scored from a penalty corner to make the score 3-3.
In hindsight perhaps Cookstown should have settled for a point but in the final few minutes committed men forward to try and win the game. An Inst breakaway attack won a penalty corner and Mark Irwin got the vital touch the win the game for the Belfast side. Although Cookstown dominated the game Inst showed the importance of penalty corner conversions ,which won them the game.