On a cold Saturday morning the U17s took on Belfast side Willowbank in the NIBFA cup. Before the game our goalkeeper had to pull out through injury and was replaced by Rivaldo Teggart who volunteered his service’s in goal. The game started at a frantic pace and it wasn’t long before the boys found that today’s match was going to be a very physical encounter. Lurgan soon had the best of the opening play with Denver Eilliott having a number of fine shooting chances. The first goal quickly followed when the ball was whipped in it came out to the edge of the box where Niall McBride blasted home on the half volley.
Willowbank tried to press for an equaliser but the defensive shape held and when Willowbank were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box Rivaldo sprung to the left top corner to stop the ball with a strong left hand. With only seconds left of the first half Willowbank equalised with a half chance with Lurgan having a number of chances to clear but failing.
The second half started more or less as the first and again Lurgan got an early goal with hard work from Jack Corrigan hitting the channel runs to cross the ball and for Niall McBride making a run towards the front post to strike the ball in. 2-1 up. It wasn’t long before Willowbank equalised again and another avoidable goal Lurgan having the opportunities to clear their lines but not doing so and Willowbank got their 3rd soon after. Lurgan were awarded a free kick on the edge of the box and Niall curled the ball around the wall but was denied by the post.
As Lurgan sought an equaliser the formation chanced to 3 at the back and with 3 flying machines up front oppted for the long ball option. With only seconds remaining Jamie McNeill drilled the ball across the box with defenders and with the strikers scrambling the ball fell to Denver Elliott at the far post who squeezed it through the oncoming players and the post. 3-3 and seconds after restart full time blown. Extra time beckoned.
The first period of extra time was more or less the same pattern both teams being physical and pressing for a winner. The ball was played over the top and looked a lost cause but Niall McBride chased the ball down and hooked it over the charging coming keeper. It looked as if the ball was going out for a goal kick but again Niall didn’t give up the chase reached the ball took it inside and slotted it home. Lurgan 4-3 up.
During the second period of extra time the match intensity began to take it’s tole on both teams and Lurgan’s intensity dropped slightly. Again Willowbank equalised with scrappy goal. 4-4. It looked as though penalties were beckoning but a very scrappy goal with 5 minutes left were it was debatable whether the ball crossed the line but the goal was given and Willowbank held on. Final score Lurgan Town 4 Willowbank 5.
A very heart wrenching defeat but from a Lurgan point of view they gave it their all both physically and mentally. They were able to withstand the late tackles, physicality and a few confrontations. Both coaches are proud of each and every one who gave their all today. That’s all we ask. Every player played very well today. MOTM: Niall McBride the hat trick man.
Team: Rivaldo, Matthew, Alex, Jay, Oliver, Jamie, Gary, Denver, Niall, Adam, Jack, Travis and Adam.