Cullybackey College Year 8 team made hard work of their last 16 tie against Strangford College in the NI Plate competition on Thursday 23rd November, eventually running out 4-2 winners in a lively encounter. A long bus journey in the morning saw Cullybackey arrive knowing only a win would do to justify the long trek to the east coast. A heavy, muddy pitch prevented any free flowing football being played by either side.
It was the home team who took the lead, their striker sliding the ball past Bryce King-Hay in goals. However, shortly before half time, Captain Sam Rock hit a blistering first time “Steven Gerrard like” shot into the top corner to bring the sides level. Strong defensive performances from Daniel Lowry, Samuel Hanna, Bailie King-Hay and Rhyce Brown-Kerr allowed Cullybackey to create more chances, with centre forward Joel Aitchison unlucky on several occasions.
It was 50-50 in the second half, with Callum Swan and Luke McGaughey combining well on the right hand side to open up space for Aitchison to attack. However, Strangford took the lead again when a corner wasn’t cleared and their talented centre midfielder slided past a stranded King-Hay. This fired the boys up to search for an equaliser and it duly arrived, Joel Aitchison striking a fine shot to make it 2-2. This was followed by some neat play by Rock and Josh Nicholl in midfield to set up Isaac Wylie on the left who made no mistake with the finish. At 3-2 it still wasn’t wrapped up as Strangford pressed for an equaliser. As the home team pushed forward, Wylie produced a terrific break away run on the left, chipped the ball to the back post and McGaughey was on hand to slide home the fourth.
An amazing and entertaining game came to a close, a game played in great spirit by both sets of players, with our boys doing themselves proud once again. Man of the match: Daniel Lowry.