ANTRIM Thirds entertained Harlequins Thirds at the Forum on Friday evening and Captain Stuart Campbell was available to play as goalkeeper in the 15-man squad.
After a pre-match talk, it was decided to play a 4-4-2 formation, and this game plan worked wonders for the youth and experienced Antrim side.
This was a game that Antrim needed to win, and from the start they threw all they had at the opposition.
In goals, Stuart Campbell did well with some great kicking to keep his side in the running for the victory. Harlequins had the early pressure, but good defending from Smyth and Coulter and some great interpassing through the midfielders Paul Whiteside,Patrick McClean, Alan Burgess and Ryan McCrea gave them the upper hand.
Up front, Reece Adaszkiewicz created good movement on the ball and won the first short corner of the game.
Whiteside’s accurate hit out allowed Coulter to lay the ball off for McCue to strike it goalwards whereAdaszkiewicz popped up in front of the diving goalkeeper to expertly deflect the ball over him into the net to give Antrim the lead.
Although the visitors had some dangerous attacks into the Antrim circle, they defended well clearing some difficult balls from rebounds off the keeper’s pads.
More attacking from Antrim started by the experienced Coulter through Burgess and on to Adaszkiewicz down the right side into the circle, where he fired the ball goalwards to deflect off a defender for Gareth McCue to calmly score to give his team the 2-0 lead.
Antrim’s confidence soared, and the inspired Whiteside got into the frame to score three goals for his hat-trick, showing great composure on the ball.
One of the goals was a brilliant effort, scored from an acute angle past the helpless goalkeeper.
Then Coulter broke forward from the back, and an interchange with Burgess saw the ball played across the circle for James Cameron to drive it into to the net for his team’s sixth goal.
The second half continued as the first as Antrim pressed the demoralized visitors.
At right back, Adam Monaghan had a great game, getting in some great tackles and making some good passes up the right and into midfield.
Ryan McCrea made good work down the right side and his interchanging with Adaszkiewicz allowed Burgess in to slip the ball under the advancing keeper for the seventh goal.
Just before the end, McCue got his second from a strong mid circle shot to complete the convincing 8-0 victory.
Congratulations to Paul Whiteside on scoring his first hat-trick for Antrim.
Thanks to the Harlequins umpire Philip Duke and Antrim’s Mark Smyth for officiating in such a fair and professional manner.
This week, the Thirds travel to Belfast to play Cliftonville Seconds in a league match
Thirds Squad:- S Campbell, A Smyth, M Coulter, A Monaghan, R McCrea, A Burgess, P Whiteside, P McClean, G McCue, R Adaszkiewicz, J Burgess, A McClements, T Monaghan, and L Kane.