COOKSTOWN slumped to their worst defeat of the season when they suffered a five goal hammering to reigning Ulster Premier kingpins Lisnagarvey last Saturday. The Reds took time to settle into the game and Garvey bossed the first 15 minutes and had won three penalty corners before Cookstown found a bit of rhythm.
Hughes denied Arbuthnot twice, once low to his left and then low to his right, to keep Cookstown in the game. The Reds then enjoyed their best period of the game and began to put the Garvey defence under a bit of pressure. An Andy Barbour shot brought a great save out of Tormey, then Matty Rollins had an effort taken off the line, then Raymond Miller saw a chance go a begging. Cookstown’s first penalty corner resulted in a Timmy Smyth effort going over the bar.
The first half ended scoreless with Cookstown beginning a take a hold of the game, however few of watching crowd would anticipate what would happen in the second half.
The half was only a minute old when Garvey took the lead. A Johnny Bell through ball was brilliantly diverted past Hughes by MacNeice. A few minutes later and the lead was doubled when a MacNeice snapshot again beat Hughes.
The next goal was either game over or game on, thankfully it was game on as Greg Allen scored his 20th goal of the season at a penalty corner. Garvey came storming back and Arbuthnot netted from a penalty corner to restore the two goal lead. Allen then thought he had brought Cookstown back into the game when his penalty corner shot came off a defenders foot just inside the circle and looped high over the keeper and into the net. However, the umpire gave Garvey a free and Cookstown were still left with a mountain to climb.
Cookstown had to come forward now, however they lost their shape and left themselves open to Garvey’s fast counter attacks. Too many players were not on their game and a lot of errors were punished by Garvey.
As Cookstown pressed, an aerial out of the Garvey defence was miscontrolled by a Reds defender and Andy Forrest scored to put Garvey 4 -1 up.
The Reds bad day at the office was far from over as MacDonnell scored the home side’s fifth goal when he was first to react to Hughes save. Right on the final whistle Cookstown could have been further embarrassed when a goal bound effort was brilliantly taken off the line by Andy Barbour.
The Reds have a break next Saturday before they take on Garvey again at Coolnafranky on Wednesday 21st March at 7.45pm. This is a game that Cookstown must win to be in with a realistic chance of winning the league.
They then play host to Banbridge on Saturday 24th March as the important games just keep coming.