With only 11 available players for the U13 Lisburn League sides first home game of the season, the boys were up against it from before a ball was kicked. Todays team was missing injured Goalkeeper Luke Harrison and ever present defender Ben Cuthbert, we also received bad news this week of 2 longer term injuries Ethan Geddis (broken collarbone) and Rian Furphy (fractured arm).
After 60 minutes of football the boys arrived back in the changing rooms with mixed emotions. The first 5 minutes was a bit scrappy with both teams vying for control, Lurgan did however begin to settle and take control of the game in midfield getting their foot on the ball and playing some nice flowing football. Jake Turner was causing all kinds of problems down the left wing making probing runs time and time again and we felt that it was only a matter of time before Town got the break through. This was not to be, and totally against the run of play TW Braga broke down their left hand side taking the ball to the by line on the 18 yard box, the Lurgan defenders backed off and allowed the Braga winger then to cut the ball inside for a better angle at goal which he duly made the most of and lifted the ball over and out of reach of the Lurgan stand in keeper Cameron Mackay and into the roof of the net. The Lurgan boys were obviously disappointed but dug the heels in and from the kickoff began to reapply the pressure on Braga and within 5 minutes that pressure paid off when Jake Turner slotted the ball between 2 defenders and Kyle White picked up and headed for goal before being taken down in the six yard box. James Maguire stepped up to cooly slot home his third penalty conversion in 3 weeks, taking the score level to 1 a piece. This gave Lurgan the lift they needed and it wasn’t long before Town went in front when Kyle White played a lovely ball out to Jake Turner who took a touch just outside the 18 yard box before drilling the ball over the keeper and into the far corner. At this stage Lurgan were coasting the game and Brandon Boyce was unfortunate not to make it 3-1 when his long distance shot drifted just wide of the post. Braga were just holding on and were glad to hear the half time whistle with Town taking a 2-1 lead into half time.
It was as if a switch had been hit at half time with Braga starting the second half sharper and Town began making silly mistakes and just unable to find the crisp passing and fluency of their first half play. It wasn’t long before Braga punished the Town slackness and got their equaliser which came from a short corner. Cameron Mackay looked to have it covered but lost his grip on the slippy surface of the ball with it unfortunately slipping in between his legs, 2-2. Town did begin to get their act together and when Kyle White was put through on goal he made no mistake of his finish taking Lurgan back into the lead, 3-2.
The boys used this as a catalyst to push on with Jake Rainer causing all kinds of problems on the right wing with his pace but just couldn’t get that final killer ball into the danger area. Lurgan went 4-2 up when James Hegarty was played through between the Braga centre halfs and like White not long before him, he made no mistake with his finish. Town at this stage looked firmly in control cruising to their first 3 points of the season. With only a couple of minutes to go the management and parents watching were all feeling a bit more relaxed but unfortunately so were the boys and were taught the harsh lesson that its not over until its over.
The boys switched off and a short back pass by Brandon Boyce who had been great all game allowed the Braga striker to nip in and pinch the ball just pulling it out of Mackays reach and into the net. The boys were a bit stunned by this but with only 1 minute remaining we felt they had done more than enough to hold on for the points, but from the kickoff Town lost the ball cheaply in midfield and the Braga midfielder run with the ball holding off 5 town players before finishing well from distance to finish the game 4 goals apiece.
Performances are improving week on week and with only 11 players available and some of the boys being played out of their regular position we can’t be to hard on the boys, with just a bit more concentration at times we would have had all 3 points today and the boys realise that themselves. One of the big positives today was the amount of chances we created and the way we controlled about 80% of the game, if we can build on that going forward the boys will do ok.
The players and coaches would like to wish all those boys on the injury list a speedy recovery and hope to see them all back playing with us soon.