Killyleagh YC 1 Malachians 0
IAN Mannus struck with the first half winner that gave Killyleagh three precious points.
Mannus was the goalscoring hero but it took two outstanding saves from goalkeeper Michael McKenna and another superb display of leadership from Hugh Dickson to see Dee Heron’s team safely home.
Just how priceless they prove to be may not be apparent until the end of the season but Saturday’s victory at The Showgrounds completed a league double for the YC against the Greencastle outfit this season.
It was the Belfast side, buoyed by their shock win the previous week against unbeaten Islandmagee, who got off to the brightest start and it took a fine challenge from Hugh Ross in the third minute to prevent Brendan Lowe opening the scoring for Malachians.
The gusting wind threatened to spoil proceedings but Killyleagh finally carved out an opening in the 13th minute with Gary Murdoch going on a surging run. He picked out Dale Davidson and when the precision cross came in, Murdoch was unable to convert for what would have been a quality goal.
Soon afterwards Ross and Davidson combined on the left but when the cross came over, there was no one in the area to provide the finish. Hugh Dickson also had a chance when Niall Walsh’s fizzed free kick found him unmarked in the six yard box but it was no more than a half chance it came at him so fast.
Killyleagh made the breakthrough in the 36th minute. Niall Walsh’s throw was headed down by Dickson and Mannus thumped it home in style past John Murphy as it bounced nicely towards him. Killyleagh’s only other real chance of the half was created by Davidson for Gavin Murray.
In the second half, the Mals now playing with the wind advantage, dominated possession and it took some fine defending by Dickson, Ross, Barry Walsh and Murdoch to keep them at bay. At the opposite end Davidson was high and wide with an effort in the 66th minute and then sub Lee Morrison forced an outstanding save from the keeper after he had been set in by Davidson.
The save of the game, though, came in the 77th minute when McKenna produced heroics to block a Mals’ effort when a goal seemed certain.
The visitors squandered three well placed free kicks and apart from another good save from McKenna, Killyleagh always looked value for their win, making it seven out of a possible nine points in their last three games.
Killyleagh: M McKenna, G Murdoch, H Ross, B Walsh, H Dickson, I Mannus, J Wilson, D Davidson, G Murray, N Walsh, J Heron. Subs: D McConnell, L Morrison, B Strain.