COOKSTOWN 5th XI travelled to Portadown last weekend for their first away game of the season. The opponents were an unusually strong Portadown 2nd XI on a miserable Saturday afternoon at Eden Villa.
A look of horror appeared on the faces of some of Cookstown’s players when, after Mark Carson pulled out, they realized they were going to have to play a full 70 minutes. Nonetheless Cookstown decided to try and go for a strong start and attack from the off. This decision proved irrelevant as Cookstown struggled to hold on to possession for the early part of the game. The Ports pinned Cookstown further into their own half as The Reds struggled to hang on to the game.
The breakthrough came as a result of Cookstown’s failure to clear their lines and stand-in keeper Stewart could do nothing as the Ports forward slipped the ball low into the corner. As the half wore on Cookstown began to find their feet with Hamill and Anderson on the right looking like the Reds best cause for assault on the opposition’s goal. The more Cookstown ventured forward however, the more they were exposed at the back and a quick counter attack by Portadown lead to a series of short corners, finally converting on the third attempt.
As half time approached, Cookstown pushed harder for a goal with Thom almost getting a touch on an Agnew pass to the back post. Again Cookstown were caught on the counter attack and were awarded a controversial short corner despite the umpire conceding that he did not see the ball touch a foot and an uncharacteristic rant from Barnes. The way Cookstown’s luck was going it was no surprise to see the corner converted, Stewart only able to palm the effort into the net. Half time, 3-0.
Cookstown were determined to go out in the second half and play their way back into the game. The Reds restarted the game at a blistering pace and a shell shocked Portadown could do little to stem the Reds surge forward. A succession of four Red’s short corners saw Agnew denied by the keeper and his dogged defence.
A quick breakaway, and Portadown’s first attack of the half, led to a short corner which again they converted through their experienced drag flicker. Straight from the restart Agnew went on a trademark run skinning two defenders before slipping the ball through the last defender’s legs only to be thwarted by the waiting keeper. Finally Cookstown got their consolation when Johnston sublimely played skipper Crooks through one on one with the keeper making no mistake with the finish, a cheeky nutmeg. Final score, 4-1.
Millar, Shearer & Black Man of the Match: Lee Hamill
Cookstown: H. Stewart, Q. Mire, N. Barnes, B. Steenson, S. Otterson, L. Hamill, M. Crooks, R. Johnston, J. Anderson, R. Agnew, R. Thom