Mixed fortunes for CHS in McCullough Cup clashes

Scott Nelson on the attack for Cookstown High School
Scott Nelson on the attack for Cookstown High School

Cookstown played their penultimate McCullough Cup group match against Friends School Lisburn who, like Cookstown have had a successful start to the season.

Both teams realised the importance of the match and it was the visitors who started the better of the two teams and they dominated possession for the first 10 minutes of the half.

It was during this period that they got their only short corner and after a good initial save by Josh Anderson, the friends forwards were the quickest to the rebound and slotted home to make it one nil and reap the reward for their early dominance.

This was the catalyst that the Cookstown team needed and they started to compete at a much higher level and create a number of strong phases of play.

The engine room of Ian and Tony Johnston and Ryan Donaldson interlinked well and were able to break the midfield line on a number of occasions, releasing the speed machine Chis Millar who was able to run around the outside of the Friends defenders and force several short corners and scoring opportunities.

Unfortunately Cookstown were up against a Friends goalkeeper in sensational form who thwarted attack after attack and stopped a number of near certain goals.

Despite this, the Cookstown team didn’t deviate from their plan and continued to force numerous circle penetrations. It was five minutes from half time that this paid off and Ryan Donaldson finally managed to beat the keeper with an unstoppable shot. Half time 1-1.

The second half saw Cookstown continue with their dominance and the players worked tirelessly both in attack and defence.

They forced a series of short corners and the hours of practice from the previous week paid off with a well executed routine resulting in an unstoppable drag flick from Scott Nelson who is making a reputation for himself as one of the best school boy drag flickers in the country.

Cookstown kept pressing and creating with Ryan Donaldson and Luke Simpson both coming close. Unfortunately this inability to score was punished by a speculative ball into the Cookstown circle which was deflected past Anderson to make it 2-2.

Both teams continued to push hard for the winner but it was the Lisburn team who capitalised on sloppy Cookstown defending and they managed to score in a crowded Cookstown circle when the ball should have been cleared on a number of occasions.

Cookstown kept pushing for an equaliser and managed to force a short corner in the closing moments of the match. In a nailbiting finish the Friends short corner defence managed to clear the ball off the line and prevent Scott Nelson from doubling his total and securing a well deserved draw for previously unbeaten Cookstown side.

Coach Michael Haycock paid tribute to his side for their work ethic and application over the season so far.

They now prepare for the trip to Dublin for the Irish Schools tournament from October 23-25 between the top 16 teams in the country.

1st XI Squad: Joshua Anderson, Thomas Sterling, Scott Nelson, Michael Kerr, Jonathan Wensley, Timmy Sloan, Tony Johnston, Ian Johnston, Ryan Donaldson, Chris Millar, Callum Anderson, Luke Simpson, Joel Anderson, Brett McConnell, Elliott Harpur and Daniel McCord.