ANTRIM Seconds met Newry Seconds at the Paddy Marks Arena on Saturday in a Junior League match.
They attacked from the off and within 90 seconds they took the lead when Lyle Kane’s reverse stick shot looped over the Newry keeper’s head to land in the goal.
Any notion, however, that this was going to be an easy game was quickly dismissed.
Indeed within a couple of minutes Antrim were caught on the hop when the visitors equalised with a sweeping attack ending with a mid circle strike finding the back of the net giving goalkeeper Cameron O’Neill little chance of making the save.
That goal was decisive, putting the visitors into attack mode.
David Mailey combined well with the recently returned Shaun O’Neill and Stuart Kernaghan but there was a lack of fluidity to the play.
The ten man Newry team got numbers behind the ball and combined with some strong tackling they started to get the upper hand.
In the 15th minute Newry won the ball on the half-way line and quickly moved the ball down the right where their winger beat two defenders to fire it across the goalmouth.
With the Antrim defence totally out of position it was no surprise when the Newry centre forward scored with a simple tap in at the back post.
Jack Kirkpatrick, Ethan Angell, Nathan Murdoch and Jamie Kernaghan were putting in a mountain of work but despite their efforts possession was being conceded much too easily - and Antrim’s usual tight marking was for most part non-existent.
With little movement in the mid field Stevie Gammon, Jonny McMeekin and Paul Whiteside struggled to get the ball out from the back.
The half finished with Newry enjoying a 3-1 lead.
Right at the start of the second half Newry should have scored a fourth when a diagonal ball hit from right mid field was picked up by an unmarked striker in the Antrim circle, but thankfully goalkeeper O’Neill did enough to block a decent shot on goal.
Soon afterward another pass into the circle was again picked up by one of the Newry attackers who made the time and space to fire the ball into the back of the net for the 4-1 lead.
Antrim fought back and were awarded a few penalty corners but their shots were blocked or flew just wide of the goal time after time.
Newry then scored a fifth goal when a poor hit out from the back was intercepted and the ball was hammered in to the net to give them a comfortable 5-1 lead.
Antrim the pulled a goal back in the 52nd minute when a Johnny McMeekin pile-driver beat the keeper at his near post.
But back came Newry to restore their four goal advantage when poor marking allowed a striker the time and space to scramble the ball over the line after O’Neill had blocked the initial shot.
In the 60th minute Lyle Kane scored his second, Antrim’s third with another clever reverse stick shot from a mid circle position.
Then with just five minutes remaining Neil McCullough made the score less embarrassing with a snap shot to score his team’s fourth goal.
The play in final minutes was end to end with Antrim probably looking the more dangerous but it was the ten man Newry team who held on to secure all three points with a deserving 6-4 result.
Afterwards there were team thanks to Gary Molloy and Stuart Campbell who both officiated in such a fair and professional manner.
This week Antrim Seconds play their next league match at the Paddy Marks Arena against Cookstown Fourths with a 1pm start.
And while there was much to admire in this game, the squad will undoubtedly be looking for a better result.
Antrim Seconds: J Kernaghan, P Whiteside, C O’Neill, S O’Neill, S Gammon, N McCullough, S Kernaghan, D Mailey, E Angell, N Murdoch, J Kirkpatrick, J McMeekin and L Kane.