Ballymena Hockey Club round-up: Men ‘cop’ PSNI defeat
BALLYMENA Hockey Club men’s First XI faced league favourites PSNI in a top of the table clash at the Showgrounds on Saturday.
Previous meetings between these two sides very evenly matched affairs and this encounter would prove no different, with the visitors emerging as narrow 3-2 winners.
Despite a confident start, Ballymena struggled to hold onto possession and it was the visitors who dominated play in the opening 15 minutes. Chances were at a premium for both sides though, with most of the action centred in the space between the 22’s.
It was PSNI who were first to break the deadlock however, scoring mid-way through the first half with a superbly taken reverse stick shot from a short corner.
Despite PSNI’s ascendency, Ballymena were in no mood to roll over and, following a short period of dominance, responded with the equaliser - a superbly taken goal by Clive Fulton, again on the reverse, from an impossible angle which afforded the stranded PSNI keeper no chance.
A short time later Ballymena snatched the lead from an unsuspecting PSNI, when Victor Orr carved out an opportunity from nothing. Orr, the play maker on this occasion, laid the ball off to Alex McKeown who slotted the ball home to give the visitors a cushion going into the break.
PSNI came out all fired up in the second half and seemed to have adopted the approach that attack was the best form of defence. To this end they soon equalised with nothing more than a speculative shot which was deflected in off a defender’s stick.
Speculative or not the goal seemed to give the visitors the edge while the host’s efforts, on the other hand, seemed to come to nothing.
With the final whistle near, PSNI managed to steal the victory with a third and final goal much to the dismay of a Ballymena side who had shown commitment, determination and who really didn’t deserve to lose.
Ballymena: Eddie Hampton, Chris Hogg (capt), Andrew Bell, David McDonald, Andrew Shields, Andrew Crooks, Victor Orr, Clive Fulton, Alex McKeown, Tim Lowry, Mark Allison, Andrew McKelvey, Matt Corbett.
Ballymena II 2, Portrush 3: Ballymena Seconds looked very much the dominant force against Portrush on Saturday and for much of the first half gave the away side a lesson in how to play attacking hockey.
After an early short corner for Portrush, Ballymena turned defence into attack as an impressive run and direct ball into the circle found veteran Ken Murphy at the back post to slot the ball beyond the reach of the visitor’s keeper for a 1-0 lead.
Ballymena continued in the same vein but a spell of short corners for Ballymena came to nothing as a capable Portrush keeper did his bit to keep the ball out of the goal.
Aaron Murphy and Mark Monteith worked their magic in midfield but it was Murphy senior who stepped up for a second time to give the home side a two-goal cushion, although it could easily have been five given the opportunities which the home side squandered as the first half drew to its conclusion.
However, as the second half commenced the home side had only itself to blame for allowing Portrush back into this game and before long they clawed a goal back from a short corner strike which gave Birrell no chance.
The visitors left themselves somewhat exposed as they pushed for a leveller and both Mark Monteith and Matt O’Neill could have added a further two goals the home side’s tally but for the prowess of a very able Portrush keeper.
The defining moment of the game came when Ballymena failed to close down a Portrush break which lead to an equalizer.
With ten minutes to go and both teams pushing for a winner the host’s secured a number of short corners and try as he might a frustrated Andy Lorimer couldn’t find the back of the net.
Instead it was Portrush who dashed Ballymena’s hopes when, in a series of four consecutive short corners, they finally beat James Birrell to take a 3-2 lead.
The final strike of the match fell to Andy Boyd but again the opportunity came to nothing, which seemed to sum up the lot which the home side were dealt.
With one more league match to play at home to Lisnagarvey, Ballymena will hope to take 3 points to secure their mid table position and retain their place in Junior 5 at the end of their first season.
The team would like to thank Davy Lorimer for umpiring and Andy Shields for coaching.
Seconds: James Birrell(GK), Alister Hanna(Capt), Dave Bradley, Andy Boyd, Ken Murphy, Al Donald, Aaron Murphy, Mark Monteith, Andy Lorimer, Phil Moody, Matt Corbett, Matt O’Neill, Paul McDowell, Tim Lowry.
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Weather for Ballymena
Sunday 26 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South
Temperature: 6 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: South