Hard Earned Draw For 17s

under 17 mid ulster 1718Lurgan took on the current leaders of the league Newry City in a home fixture in Tandragee.  Newry a big physical side and would prove a physical test for the lads.  Lurgan started well although Newry pressed them at every opportunity and interrupted the passing play which we are used to.  Lurgan played a formation of 3-5-2 and at times were being stretched by the Newry attack.

The first goal came for Newry in the first 10 minutes from a corner.  Lurgan not staying with their runners and a header which Rivaldo Teggart in the Town goal had little chance of stopping at close range.  Lurgan pressed and from a  great delivery by Joshua Pugh from a corner came very close when Adam Hodgkinson stole in from the back post and with a powerful header hit the side of the post and unfortunately hit the side netting.

Newry’s second came shortly after, when the opportunity to clear the ball we didn’t and from a break down the right the winger drive a powerful low shot towards the back post. Rivaldo saved it and done what all good keepers should do by pushing it away from the centre of the goal but unfortunately the Newry player came in from the left wing to slot home. 2-0 down although Lurgan had been the more dominate side… fustrating.  Just before the half time whistle the ball broke to Niall McBride on the left wing who took it round the right back and fired a powerful swerving shot towards the top right hand corner. Newry’s goal keeper sprung from the centre of the goal to palm the ball for a corner; an unbelievable save.

During the half time talk the 3-5-2 formation was sorted out and the boys understood that when defending they defend as a 5 and when attacking they defended as a 3.

The second half kicked off and it became evident very quickly that the lads had understood the half time talk and with their implementation of what was required the system and hard work began to work in Lurgan’s favour.  The pressing game that Newry employed in the first half was not working as Lurgan always seemed to have an extra man in midfield or up front and when defending as a five gobbled up any break or long ball tactic.  With Adam and Bailey going close with long range efforts it wasn’t long before Lurgan pulled one back.  After a midfield battle Jamie offloaded the ball to Joshua who crossed the ball to the back post where Niall side footed the ball on the volley.  2-1.

The impetuous was with Lurgan who where constantly on the attack and the rare breaks that Newry had were dealt with by Ollie, Jay and Morgan.  Riv also played his part when the ball broke and because of his starting position was able to sprint out clear the ball by taking out both man and ball on a 50-50 challenge. Lurgan’s second came from unconventional means by our standards with Riv lumping the ball goalwards from his own box. The Newry defender allowing the ball to bounce and Niall following suit with a one on one with the keeper headed the ball over the keeper into the back of the net. For his efforts the keeper unintentional punched Niall in the money maker but it hasn’t hampered his good looks.  2-2.

Time was nearly up when Niall cut the ball across the face of goal and Jamie coming in at the back post just missed the ball. Final score 2-2.

It was great to watch the lads come from 2 down to draw.  In my book that’s 1 point saved rather than 2 dropped. Jason, Scott and myself were impressed with the lads grit, determination and fight which saw them save a well deserved point.  The lads played some good football and should take heart and belief that they can match the so called better teams. To put it in perspective last year we would have lost that match and probably at the start if this season also. MOTM Adam Hodgkinson

Team: Rivaldo, Morgan, Jay, Travis, Oliver, Matthew, Adam L, Adam H, Bailey, Joshua, Alex, Niall, Jamie.