Ballymena Hockey Club’s men’s First XI were in terrific goalscoring form again at the weekend with a 7-2 win over South Antrim Fifths.
Ballymena men went into their latest Junior 5 match high on confidence following last week’s 8-0 demolition of Portadown 3rds.
After a fairly even opening ten minutes it was the home side that broke the deadlock, with a move that originated down the left wing. Matthew O’Neill and Andrew Bell interchanged passes, before the ball made its way to Andy Linford in the circle. He had time and space to flick the ball casually past the onrushing goalkeeper.
South Antrim almost responded immediately, and it took some excellent reaction work from James Birrell to maintain the home side’s advantage.
It proved to be a save of huge significance as Ballymena counterattacked down the right wing, and Craig Davis, on his return from long-term injury, composed himself in the circle to beat the last defender and strike the ball low into the bottom corner.
Ballymena spent the remainder of the first half well on top, and scored two more quick fire goals before the interval. Matthew O’Neill netted from close range, and Linford scored his second with a tidy ‘Crooks-like’ finish on his reverse stick.
Some careless play in the Ballymena defence after the break gave away a needless short corner, and South Antrim scored through a bizarre miss-hit shot that bamboozled Birrell in goals.
The goal seemed to spark the home side back into action, and Alex McKeown, who had been unlucky not to score in the first half, netted a quick brace of goals, the second of which was an acrobatic overhead shot which threatened to rip the roof of the net.
South Antrim scored their second goal of the game when a hopeful punt into the circle hit the post and fell nicely for their striker to push simply into the goal. It was left to Ballymena’s current top scorer, Andy Lorimer, to round off the game with a laser-guided finish into the bottom left hand corner of the goal.
The team would like to thank Davy Lorimer for umpiring
Ballymena: A. Linford(GK), C. Fulton (C), C. Hogg, D. McDonald, R. Jess, A. Bell, E. Archer, V. Orr, M. Allison, A. McKeown, A. Lorimer, M. O’Neill
Campbellians III 1, Ballymena II 3: In the early stages, Ballymena keeper McConnaghie played villain and hero as he was adjudged to have brought down the Campbell striker in one on one, but saved the resulting flick to keep the game level.
Both teams had penalty corners unconverted, before the deadlock was finally broken ten minutes from the break, when Phil Moody latched onto the ball at the edge of the circle and traversed to the right side before unleashing and unstoppable thunderbolt into the bottom corner.
However, Campbell changed tact and came out with a higher offensive line that caught Ballymena wanting as they tried to move the ball out of defence. In a turnover play, Campbell attacked with pace and their striker one on one with the keeper slotted home to level the game.
Ballymena dug in defensively and began to counter attack against the home press and from a penalty corner Ballymena regained the lead through Jamie Grimason.
Again against the play as Campbell through men forward for the equaliser, Archer counter attacked and in a cross goal scramble Ben mills turned up back post to slot the ball home and give Ballymena the victory 3-1.
Ballymena: K. McConaghie, J. Grimason, E. Hampton, D. McDowell, A. Hanna(C), T. Cole, W. Barr, S. Glass, K. Murphy, P. Moody, E. Archer, B. Mills.
The First XI’s scheduled match at Banbridge was postponed because of a waterlogged pitch.
Ballymena II 1, Harlequins II 4: Ballymena, fresh from their first league win last week started well with good exchanges of play between the midfield and forwards but just couldn’t convert some early chances.
Harlequins were defensively strong and used this as their springboard to mount several attacks as Ballymena quickly found themselves 2 goals down in a matter of minutes. A third followed from a penalty corner. Time and again, Quin’s pounded Ballymena’s defensive line who with some good tackling and goalkeeping managed to limit the visitors to a fourth before the break!
Having stopped the flow of goals, Ballymena got their rewards late on from an excellent short corner routine, with Emma Clarke finding the net for a consolation goal.
Ballymena: L. Hanna(GK), N. Greer, E. Clarke, A. Harbison, S. Montgomery, K. McMaster, H. Dickey, E. Alexander, S. Nicholl, N. Rea, L. Murphy, A. Logan, K. Aiken(C), S. Penny