Portrush came into this week’s fixture away to Ballynahinch with a 100% record hoping to keep it going in what was the hardest test of the season.
With the teams meeting each other on New Year’s Day for the Sussex Regiment Cup Final, this would give both teams an indication on what to expect. Portrush welcomed back Ryan Smith at an ideal time as Andrew McConaghie could not travel with the team. Portrush started brightly and held the ball well, with John Dillon and James McCook getting into the action quickly in the attack.
On seven minutes Dillon broke the deadlock after good work from Callum McKeeman. Ballynahinch came out and really had a go at Portrush and a mistake from Ryan Smith gifted them a goal. Portrush went close to taking the lead again straight away as Smith looked to make up for his earlier error and supplying a good ball for Dillon only for the ball to go wide. But just before the half-time whistle they took the lead with a goal from Callum McKeeman as he guided the ball past the keeper.
Portrush showed some excellent team work and skill in the build up to their third goal as the ball was moved from defence to attack with fluidity and when a finish was needed, Lewis Greene was on hand to slot the ball home. The Ports had a grip on the game and were enjoying the hockey they were playing with some outstanding individual performances from captain Aaron Kerr and Leon Smith in the centre. Lewis Greene almost made it four with a shot which deserved a goal, but it smashed the crossbar and deflected out. Moments later, however Dillon grabbed his second of the game with an exquisite finish to seal the game for Portrush.
Callum McKeeman almost made it five before Portrush were hit on the counter attack to leave the final score 4-2. Portrush were extremely happy to win this vital game and to get another three points in the bag to push for the Senior league 2 title. Without their influential coach, David Price this week, Aaron Kerr was dealt the task of organising, captaining and playing his own game and with a worthy Man of the Match award it proves he really can deal with the heat in the kitchen. Other performances from John Dillon and Leon Smith deserve a mention as they showed grit and hard work all day. Also a fantastic performance from Lewis Greene coming off the bench to score shows how strong a squad Portrush have.
Portrush Team: G.McAllister (GK), R.Smith, B.Smith, G.Kerr, N.McMaster, L.Smith, C.McKeeman, A.Kerr(C), G.Christie, J.Dillon, J.McCook. Subs: L.Greene, P.Linton (Man of the Match: Aaron Kerr)