Bradley relieved as wasteful Saffrons escape
Antrim 2-11 London 2-9
ALL-IRELAND SFC QUALIFIER
Antrim manager Liam Bradley slammed his side's wastefulness in front of goal after they were given an almighty fright by London in Ruislip.
The Saffrons found themselves trailing by two points late on, having spurned five gilt-edged goal chances, but they got out of jail thanks to substitute Kevin Niblock's 62nd-minute maximum.
"We're relieved, but look, we missed five clear goal chances," said Bradley. "We won that game by two points but at the same time we could have won it by 20. We could also have lost the game. It was that tight."
Antrim had travelled over to London on Saturday morning after a number of the panel were at Tomas McCann's wedding the previous day.
That early start didn't affect them in the opening quarter however as they defied playing into the strong wind by taking a five-point lead.
On 18 minutes, Aodhan Gallagher atoned for an earlier miss by slotting home after quick hands from McCann.
But the remainder of the half belonged to the Exiles, and they took a shock 2-5 to 1-5 lead into the dressing-rooms after a stunning goal from Ciaran McCallion and a sweet finish by Eoin O'Neill from the final play of the half.
Antrim were level within six minutes of the restart, but the goal chances continued to go begging. Gallagher missed another sitter, before wing-back Tony Scullion found the net, only to be penalised for taking too many steps.
London drew level midway through the half, but substitute Peter Finn then somehow failed to finish after rounding Antrim goalkeeper Chris Kerr.
Despite that miss, three unanswered points put the hosts back in front, but the wind was knocked out of their sails when Niblock profited from a quick counter-attack to net, and McCann made the game safe in injury-time with his fifth point of the day.
"We gave away two bad goals at crucial times by choking up possession," said Bradley. "It's hard on London; they probably thought they'd done enough to win the game. But I thought we played some really smart football, especially in the first half.
"We went in at half-time 2-5 to 1-5 down, when really we should have been four or five points up.
"We took our foot off the gas and allowed them back into the game. They smelt victory and began to work that wee bit harder. We're delighted to get out of here with a two-point victory."
Scorers -- Antrim: T McCann 0-5 (4f), A Gallagher, K Niblock 1-0 each, J Loughery, C Murray 0-2 each, M Sweeney, C Kelly 0-1 each. London: E O'Neill, C McCallion 1-1 each, M Mullins (1f), S McVeigh 0-2 each, S Kelly (f), J Scanlon, M Gottsche 0-1 each.
Antrim -- C Kerr 6; J Crozier 6, R Johnson 6, K O'Boyle 6; M Johnson 6, T Scullion 7, A Healy 6; M McCann 7, C Kelly 8; C Murray 7, M Sweeney 6, J Loughery 7; A Gallagher 6, T McCann 8, M Magill 5. Subs: K Niblock 7 for Magill (47), P McBride 6 for Sweeney (55), M Armstrong 6 for Murray (69).
London -- E Byrne 6; S Hannon 6, S Mulligan 6, D McGreevy 5; K O'Leary 6, T Gaughan 7, J Scanlon 7; S McVeigh 9, M Gottsche 8; S Kelly 6, G Crowley 6, C McCallion 7; M Mullins 7, L Mulvey 8, E O'Neill 6. Subs: P McGoldrick 6 for Kelly (40), P Finn 5 for Crowley (52), M Carroll 6 for Mullins (63), N Egan 6 for O'Neill (67).
REF -- P Hughes (Armagh).