Youngsters warm up against Ports

IN their final game prior to the commencement of the McCullough Cup, the first XI welcomed Portadown HC to Havelock Park early on Saturday morning.

This was the second such game in just under a fortnight; in the first fixture the club side from Portadown had got the better of the local school team by four goals to two.

On this occasion, however, the Academy team just managed to snatch the victory by the odd goal in five.

In an entertaining and open game of hockey, both sides created plenty of chances. The Academy opened the scoring through Johnny McKee, the youngster benefiting from some great industry in midfield by Rory Woods.

It wasn’t long before Portadown were back on level terms though, having sensed an opportunity their high press paid dividends and a sweet shot on the reverse side flew past Peter Bingham in the Academy goal.

The second half continued in the same vein as the first. Both teams put together a number of flowing moves and created good scoring opportunities.

With 12 minutes remaining Portadown took the lead through a short corner drag flick from the stick of Neil Gilmore. A short time later, Peter Brown returned the compliment, bringing the scores level once more when he converted a drag flicked set-piece.

With five minutes left both teams were pushing hard for the winner. In the end a great steal from Johnny McKee in midfield, a powerful run into the circle and a sublime finish on the reverse stick side decided the tie.

This was an excellent game and should provide plenty of encouragement for both sides as the start of the competitive season approaches. The one low note for the Academy was a hamstring injury to midfielder Ben Cosgrove.