Report by Demos Erwin
Antrim got off to a dream start in the first minute of the game. Calon Hardy’s excellent long ball from the left hand side was controlled brilliantly by striker Gary Dickson as the forward finished instinctively inside the box to give the reds an early lead. Antrim’s early lead however would be short lived. Despite Goalkeeper Samuel Francey saving the first attempt there was nothing the keeper could do about Nolan Brown’s second effort as the midfielder finished well on the edge of the box to bring Northeast Rush level 4 minutes in. Antrim would create the better chances in the following 15 minutes. Goalscorer Dickson had a couple of sights of goal however it was Sean Nugent who would go closest to restoring the Red’s lead. The winger’s well struck low effort was heading for the bottom corner before goalkeeper Andrew Watrous gathered the widemans dangerous strike at the second attempt. After a smartly taken freekick Alex Watson found himself free inside the Northeast penalty area. The midfielder did tremendously by skipping past the committed Watrous before squaring the ball to defender Callum Cowan. Unfortunately for Antrim and fortunately for Northeast the Red’s captain couldn’t convert his close range effort.
Despite the Northern Irish side having more possession and the better first half chances the American side remained a threat on the counter attack. The Blues best chance from the opening 35 minutes fell to wideman La Eh Soe with the forward’s effort causing Antrim’s number one Francey with some concern after his close range effort rippled the side netting in the 34th minute. Antrim went agonisingly close to restoring their lead with virtually the last kick of the half. Fullback James Simpson’s diagonal long ball into the box found the opening scorer of the game Dixson in space. Despite the forwards headed effort seeming goalbound his attempt would go inches wide of Watrous’s post bringing an end to an entertaining first half.
As the second half commenced it was Northeast who had the first clear sight of goal. An inviting cross into the box from the right hand side found the head of goalscorer Brown. The midfielder’s effort 6 yards from goal had to be tipped onto the post by Francey to keep the scoreline even in the 42nd minute. A quiet opening to the second half period was suddenly brought to life in the 50th minute. Creative spark Watson picked up the ball just inside the Northeast half, dribbling past 2 players before heading towards goal. The Northern Irishman unleashed a goalbound effort 25 yards from goal that had to be excellently saved by Watrous with an Antrim corner being the result of his long range attempt.
The second half contained much fewer goal scoring chances than the first. Therefore, it was going to take something pretty special for either side to break the deadlock. As the game entered the 61st minute it would be game’s best player Watson who provided the crowd with a special moment.
As the ball fell to Watson outside the box the deep lying playmaker needed no second invitation, producing a brilliant strike into the far corner leaving Watrous with no chance to give Antrim a 2-1 lead. NorthEast would push for an equaliser in stoppage time however the American side never produced a goal scoring opportunity meaning all three points were collected by the Northern Irish side.