Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Hockey: Saints go marching on

Saintfield are off and running in their bid to make it to Senior One after hitting three goals without reply past Campbellians at the Demesne on Saturday.





The Saints are being tipped as promotion favourites for more than one reason.



Firstly they no longer have to contend with near neighbours Down who have been promoted.



And secondly they have signed a host of players from Crossgar, who were recently forced to fold.



They swept aside their opponents on Saturday with a powerful performance which sends out a clear warning to their title rivals.



Missing Graeme Finlay, Davy Johnston and Alan Buchanan, the Co Down outfit still had enough quality to see off their Belfast opponents.



Marty Johnston took over in goal in place of the absent Finlay and while he had little to do, he produced a superb stick save in the second half to ensure he kept a clean sheet.



Saintfield finished third last season but are out to win the title this time around in a bid to join Down and Ballynahinch in Senior One.



The opening exchanges were fairly even with few chances at either end, although Gavin Kirkpatrick did go close with a crisp shot.



However, he wasn't to be denied and fired his side ahead just before the interval after some terrific build-up play involving Gareth Lennon and Conor Ferguson, the latter of whom had an outstanding game.



Nigel Jackson, Willie Heaney, Paul Fenton and Adam Thompson kept things tight at the back and Campbellians rarely threatened the home goal.



In the middle of the park, Saints skipper Matt Owen and Richard Owens were always in control and their experience told as they slipped balls wide to Ferguson and Lance Walker.



The second half was just five minutes old when Saintfield doubled their advantage.



The Campbellians 'keeper and his defender got in a tangle and when the ball struck the defender on the foot, the umpire played a good advantage, allowing Kirkpatrick to smash the ball into the net.



Ferguson was making a real nuisance of himself; he was a constant thorn in the side of the visiting defenders and was always keen to whip dangerous balls into the penalty area.



Saintfield went 3-0 ahead with 15 minutes to go following a short corner. The ball was pushed out to Jackson who squared it to Ferguson and with Campbellians expecting him to shot, he squared it back to Jackson who rifled it home.



The home side created a few more chances in the closing stages and should have scored a few more, but will be happy with the three points.



This Saturday they face Ballymena who lost to Armagh last weekend.



With Saintfield's big guns due back, they will be keen to secure another win as they aim to stay top of Senior Two.



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