Cookstown 2 Lisnagarvey 3
After crashing out of the Irish Senior Cup last week, the Reds’ home support were hoping for a positive reaction from the team and they got it.
Throughout the first half Cookstown played some of their best hockey this season. They rode their luck at times against a strangely off colour Lisnagarvey. The Hillsborough team’s play was riddled with misplaced passes and squandered chances during the first half.
The Reds started strongly and enjoyed the greater possession in the early stages. Chances fell to Mark Crooks and Raymond Millar in quick succession as the visiting keeper worked overtime.
Cookstown eventually edged ahead when Gareth Cuddy beat the keeper from close range.
The Reds doubled their lead with a great team goal; a Garvey attack was broken down by Keith Black and he quickly transferred to Stuart Smyth wide on the left. Smyth then rifled across a trademark reverse into the circle where it fell nicely for the on rushing Greg Allen who scored with a diving slap hit.
Smyth was a constant threat and he showed some great individual skill to set up a another chance for Crooks as Garvey struggled with Cookstown’s intensity. Another lightning attack saw the Garvey defence go AWOL but Smyth’s reverse pass fell just behind Matthew Rollins who had made up the hard yardage in support.
Unfortunately it was a totally different story in the second half as Cookstown succumbed to Lisnagarvey pressure.
Tim Cockram made his way along the bye line into the circle and beat Ian Hughes with a deft reverse lift over the prone keeper. Three minutes later and the scores were level as Hughes was beaten by a well placed shot in a crowded circle.
Cookstown’s play became distorted and individual errors began to creep into the game. Smyth lost the ball at left midfield and a searching ball into the circle found former Ireland international Cockram who beat Hughes to the ball with his first touch and, as he fell, scored with his second.
The Reds tried desperately to get something out of the game and a cross from Allen just evaded the diving Cuddy as time ran out.
A win here would have left Cookstown level on points with Lisnagarvey in the Ulster Premier League, but the Reds will now struggle to finish third with Instonians their main rivals for that spot.
Cookstown will look to get back to winning ways when they entertain Kilkeel this Saturday at Steelweld Park with a 2.30pm start.