Late equaliser denies Antrim Thirds victory

Antrim Third XI, who drew 2-2 with Portadown on Friday night.
Antrim Third XI, who drew 2-2 with Portadown on Friday night.

Antrim Hockey Club Third XI shared the spoils in an entertaining 2-2 draw with Portadown at the Paddy Marks Arena on Friday night.

After last week’s morale sapping defeat to Derg Valley it was vital that Antrim 3rds got their season back on track.

As the game got under way it was Portadown who had the best of the play. They were retaining possession with relative ease and when they had to they harried and harassed their Antrim counterparts until they forced the error to give them possession back.

Antrim were finding it tough against their skilful opponents and it seemed it was only be a matter of time before Portadown took the lead. And in fact this was the case as in the 20th minute Portadown won a Penalty corner.

All in the Antrim defence done their job as the well placed shot was taken off the line by the brilliant Marty Coulter but the ball cruelly fell to a Portadown forward who made no mistake and blasted the ball into the net to give Portadown a deserved 1-0 lead.

Antrim seemed to grow in belief and gained a sense of urgency when they went behind and began to pressurise the Portadown defence with Aaron McClenaghan and Gareth McCue having goal-bound efforts well saved by the Portadown goalkeeper.

Antrim’s pressure wasn’t without reward as in the 35th minute they were awarded a Penalty Corner. Mark Kingston blasted the ball goal-wards, the goalkeeper saved but the ever alert Gareth MCue was first to react as he brilliantly placed the ball through the smallest of gaps between goalkeeper, defence and post to give Antrim a slightly fortunate 1-1 draw at half time.

It was Antrim’s turn to have the upper hand in the second half and it wasn’t long before they got their reward.

In the 50th minute a mazy run by Aaron McClenaghan into the Portadown circle and as the Portadown defence crashed into him and the ball broke free it was the ever alert Ryan McCrea who reacted first to give Antrim a deserved 2-1 lead.

With only seconds remaining Portadown won yet another penalty corner.

Once again Portadown attempted the lobbed shot, but this time with completely different results. With the Antrim goalkeeper stranded and the defenders pressing the attackers, the ball looped into the Antrim goal with only inches to spare.

Antrim: S. Campbell, M. Coulter, E. Angel, E. Creighton, D. Thornton, N. Glasgow, C. Wilson, R. McCrea, M. Kingston, C. Roe, C. Wilson, A. McClenaghan, A. Myles, R. Watt, M. Watt, T. Allen.