Andy Smyth was pleased how his young Annadale side dug deep to earn a point against Kirk Cup finalists Cookstown.
The ‘Dale supremo must have thought at one stage that Cookstown were going to throttle them, as they led 2-0 after only six minutes. But they proved that they have come of age, as they reversed the scoreline and at one stage were in the lead.
But a late Reds goal cancelled out, what would have been a fantastic ‘Dale comeback in the first premiership game of 2015.
After the game Smyth said: “I thought 3-3 was a fair result and at the start of the game we looked like a team who hadn’t played since 10 December.
“To go 2-0 down against Cookstown could have opened the flood gates, as it has happened in previous seasons.
“The fact that we were able to take the lead, shows where we have progressed to and where we are going.
“To be fair, they stepped it up after we went ahead and when they levelled it, both teams were really going for it but I am really pleased with the guys performance.”
Cookstown had a dream start, when Jonny Ames can claim fame to scoring the first premiership goal of 2015, after just three minutes on the clock.
And three minutes later, Stuart Smyth made it 2-0 from the Reds second penalty corner.
But instead of Cookstown driving home their two goal advantage, it was Annadale who came storming back.
In the 11th minute, Chris Campbell split the Cookstown defence with an inch perfect pass for Matthew Allister to run on to and as he entered the circle, he drilled an unstoppable shot past Ian Hughes in the Cookstown goal.
Even when Peter McKibben was green carded, it was still Annadale who were in the driving seat, with Conor Allister and Paul Jackson just sending their chances wide off the upright.
‘Dale were back on level terms, when Chris Campbell swooped onto a rebounded Chris Jackson penalty corner, to send the ball into the Reds goal.
Four minutes later, Jackson thundered the ball off the backboards from Annadale’s third penalty corner to take the lead.
In a flowing three player move involving Dan Crooks, Ryan Millar and Raymond Miller that had the Dale defence spinning, it was the later who smashed home the equaliser. Michael Robson then had a chance but it was saved by Hughes as the final whistle went.