Late strike seals victory for 5th XI

Cookstown 5th XI 4 – 3 Kilkeel 3rd XI

COOKSTOWN 5th XI took to Coolnafranky on a deathly cold Saturday evening to face a Kilkeel 3rd XI who languish stone cold bottom of Junior League 4. The home team knew that a win would lift them up the table and leave them with an excellent platform to push on in the second half of the season.

Captain, Marc Crooks or “Il Capitano”, as his fans have labelled him due to his Italian-like flair and creativity, also knew that a win would secure his job as captain through the festive season. With so much at stake, Cookstown knew they couldn’t be complacent and that they would have to play well in order to beat the youthful Kilkeel side.

Cookstown started the game comfortably and looked to hold onto possession with every player in red getting a touch of the ball in the opening couple of minutes. Stevie Allen in the middle of the park wasn’t afraid to play the ball back to the defenders who looked more comfortable on the ball than in some previous weeks.

This patient play eventually paid off as Cookstown won their first short corner and Steve Cuddy’s duffed shot somehow managed to find a way through the keeper’s legs. The introduction of Ian Hughes to the attacking line mid way through the first half had an immediate impact with Cookstown’s possession increasing further. A beautiful passage of one touch passes from Allen, Hughes and Cuddy led to Crooks running at the last defender who brought the forward down conceding another short.

Renowned drag-flicker, Hughes fancied his chances and an efficient routine saw the defender do well to block the flick but conceded another short in doing so. They then reverted back to their first short corner play but this time Cuddy’s shot was stopped on the line and it was some determined play by Lee Hamill who reacted quickest and sent the ball home after somewhat of a goal mouth scramble.

The half finished 2-0 with Cookstown cruising.

The second 35 minutes turned out to be a lot less comfortable than it should have been for the Reds. The visitors started brightly and some neat play led to their first short corner of the game which they then converted. Cookstown responded immediately and another sublime play from Allen, Agnew and Hughes left Cuddy on the top of the dee and the forward didn’t need an invitation to shoot when he received the ball; a spectacular finish right in the top corner of the goal.

Many have suggested it was in fact a miss-hit from Steve but he was quick to deny this after the game. Cookstown’s two goal lead restored and back in the driving seat. After recently taking over from “The Rock” as the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, Crooks, now playing in midfield, looked to send the crowd home with an early Christmas present.

He picked up the ball on the halfway line and carried the ball down the right wing before cutting inside, beating waves of defenders with ease before an incredible last ditch jab from the defender took the ball away just as the skipper was pulling the trigger. The red defence was quick to quell the resulting counter attack but Kilkeel suddenly started to raise their game. Their 2nd and 3rd short corners of the game both resulted in goals to leave it 3-3 and Cookstown stared in the face of another game thrown away.

Step up Ian Hughes when with just 5 minutes to go was played the ball at the edge of the dee and his first time effort found its way into the bottom corner via a deflection from the defenders foot. Cookstown settled their heads enough to see out the game and claim all three points.

Thanks to B. Thom, Ian Hagan and Ashley Gillis for Umpiring.

Millar, Shearer and Black Man of the Match – Steve Cuddy

Team– Jamie Kirk, Lee Hamill, Lee Barnes, Harry Acheson, Quag Mire, Robin Agnew, Stevie Allen, Geoff Leonard, Marc Crooks, Stephen Cuddy, Paul Hughes, Ian Hughes, Ryan Donaldson