SK Electrical Newcastle League
Killough 2 Valley Rangers 1
AS Killough settle into the top of the league they were looking for win on their home turf against the Mournemen from Kilkeel, Valley Rangers. On form Killough must have been favourites but the game did not start that way. Both teams battled in a to and fro exchange for supremacy, but it was Killough who eventually showed and were pushing ahead with quick attacks on Valley lobbing over the defense which looked an effective strategy.
The first real chance of many for KIllough came when Philip Gelston chipped the ball over the defenders to Tony McIlhone who just misfired, but it showed Killough were going to take no prisoners. Valley were not to be deterred. In an attack Ryan Henry ran across the Killough goal but shot just wide. Then at the other end it was Colin Stranney’s chance to open the scoring but his header in front of goal was just too high to count.
Gelston was looking on form for Killough as he fed a number of excellent balls to his forward line. But the pressure was telling on Valley in the 26th minute and in an attack Gelston was floored just outside the penalty box. He took the free kick and his low shot flew into the right hand side of the Valley net beating keeper Ryan Graham to the relief of the Killough fans.
Again Killough opened up another attack as defender Kieran Sharvin brought the ball up field but his spot-perfect cross to the head of McIlhone ended again just over the Valley woodwork.
Valley were not coping with the steady Killough attacks nor were they making much impact on the Killough back line. Killough were looking to be the more dominant side and another opportunity was missed as Stranney passed to Conor Doyle who volleyed at the Valley goal but was just off target. But as the end of the first half approached, Valley made a push on Killough but Killough too wanted to close down their opposition and in their last attack McIlhone having a great game crossed an excellent ball into the Valley box but Gelston’s snap shot was just skewed enough to go the wrong side of the post.
As the second period commenced, Killough went into attack mode but again Valley were not going to roll over and fought back. In a quick move Andrew Irvine put through to Ricky Graham who volleyed the ball close to the Killough goal but a reflex save by keeper Chris Mallon was enough to deny Valley on a good effort.
Killough looked a frustrated side as they searched for a winning goal and Freddie O’Connor led a number of strong attacks down the right. Killough sub Nicholas O’Connor had one near miss when he ran along the line and shot at goal forcing Valley keeper Graham to make a crucial save. But all was not in vain for Valley as their sporadic efforts paid off when they equalised with a ball played into the Killough goal area and Ricky Graham found te space and headed into the Killough net.
The temperature of the game certainly rose after this and the game became more physical with a number of cautions from the referee. Valley had a new lease of life and began to believe in themselves again and Killough confidence was on the ropes. But the home side fought back, the league championship title being the prime motivating factor.
Gelston took a strong header at the Valley goal from a header but Graham handled the ball well. This was never going to be a game of many goals and the next one would probably decide the game. It was decided in the 42nd minute when Nicholas O’Connor slipped the ball through to Gelston who ran in to the valley box, settled himself, and as keeper Graham came out to narrow the angle, he sent a low side ball into the valley net to secure the points giving Graham no chance.
As the game ended it was Freddie O’Connor who was relentlessly attacking keeping the pressure on the visitors, and the last Killlough effort came from sub Nicholas O’Connor who miscued at the goal almost completing a final coffin nail for Valley Rangers.
A nervous but winning performance from Killough who are determined now to finish the season in style. This was not a pretty game to watch, but there some excellent attacking moves by Killough, and their defense too was sound.
Killough: Chris Mallon, Kieran Sharvin, Matthew Burns, Colin Stranney, Dee Sharvin, Conor Doyle, Freddie O’Connor, Tony McIlhone, Kevin Greaves, Philip Gelston. Subs: Aaron Hutchison, Stephen Blair, Nicholas O’Connor.
Valley Rangers: Ryan Graham, Craig McKee, Alan Henning, Andrew Nugent, William Charleton, Raymond Hanna, Jason McCoffee, Ryan Hendry, Ricky Graham, Andrew Irvine, Philip Johnston. Subs: Robin Annett, Aaron Park.