NAFL Premier Division
Saturday 7 January 2017
Shankill United 4 Downpatrick FC 2
It was a punishing day for Downpatrick FC who travelled to Belfast looking to get back to winning ways after their cup defeats over the Christmas period. For the second game running they had to make personnel changes due to players being unavailable.
The first thirty minutes were even with both teams cancelling each other out. Then on the thirty fifth minute Shankill got their noses in front resulting from a misplaced pass out of the Downpatrick defence which was intercepted. The Shankill player was through one-on-one with Michael McKenna. As the keeper came out to close the ball down the attacker had the awareness to square the ball and left his strike partner with the simplest task of tapping the ball into the empty net.
Downpatrick’s woes continued on the stroke of half time when Shankill doubled their advantage. The visitors lost the ball in midfield and the Shankill centre midfielder played a terrific through ball, the striker making no mistake.
Half Time: Shankill United 2 Downpatrick FC 0
A change of tactics and shape at the break appeared to have the desired attack for Downpatrick when they scored two goals within ten minutes of the restart. Jack McLaughlin took the ball down the right wing and delivered the perfect ball into the box for Conor McCarron. The big striker controlled the ball with his left foot before hitting a shot with his right foot into the bottom corner.
Two minutes later Aaron McGarry brought his side level, Barry Fitzsimons played the ball in from the right, Peter Telford flicked the ball on and McGarry timed his run to head the ball into the net from six yards out. Downpatrick had several chances like this to go in front with Philip Traynor but he failed to convert.
With twenty minutes remaining Shankill restored their lead. Confusion in the Downpatrick defence led to them being unable to clear the ball on several occasions and the ball fell to the Shankill striker who gave McKenna no chance in the Downpatrick goal.
With minutes remaining the home side ensured they got all three points. They caught Downpatrick on the counter attack and found themselves two on two in the Downpatrick half. Neil Taggart appeared to have won the ball and just as he was about to clear it the Shankill striker nipped in front of him and was caught by the Downpatrick defender giving the referee no option but point to the spot.
The Shankill striker sent his spot kick straight down the middle to the back of the net to make it 4 – 2.
Downpatrick: 1) M McKenna 2) N Taggart 3) C Holland 4) M Carson 5) M Holland 6) P Telford 7) B Fitzsimons 8) J McLaughlin 9) P Traynor 10) C McCarron 11) A McGarry 12) T Bell 14) E Boyle 15) T McIlhone.