Friday night saw the U15s back in league action under the lights at Tandragee Recreation Centre. Their opponents this week were local derby rivals TTBS, Town were under no illusion this would be a tough game and needed to bring their A-Game for this one. The match started at 100 miles an hour with neither team really taking total control in the early stages. Lurgan did begin to settle into their stride a little and had a great chance to take the lead when Ethan Gorman got a great run through on the opposition keeper only to see his shot go high, Ben Cullen opened the scoring soon after, cutting in from the left he held strong and bursting with confidence lifted the ball over the outcoming keeper to make it 1-0 to Town. Lurgan began tease for a second goal with some long diagonals played from left to right with Josh Johnstone and Ethan Gorman both chasing down in the hope to extend the lead, the TTBS keeper was very quick off his line to meet the threat. 20 minutes in TTBS almost came close to equalising when their attacking player unleashed a fierce shot just inside the 18 yard box but were foiled by a fantastic save by Town keeper James Hamilton to keep the score level. TTBS did draw even soon after though when the tricky TTBS winger got away from Soufian Mouhsine, the Town keeper came out to intercept and was judged to have pulled on the players shirt, the referee didn’t hesitate and pointed straight to the penalty spot and James didn’t stand much of a chance against a well struck penalty. Within 5 minutes Town retook the lead when Mackenzie Craig picked the ball up in midfield and finding himself with a bit of space drove at the TTBS defence using his strength and pace to shake off the opposition challenges he made no mistake with the finish. TTBS weren’t done yet though and again Town found themselves wanting on the right hand side when a ball was whipped in across the front of the Lurgan goal but the incoming TTBS runner was just half a yard short of putting it in at the back post. Lurgan held out until half time to come in with a slender but welcome lead.
The second half continued as the first had left off with a lot of backwards and forwards between the teams, TTBS keeper continued to stay switched on throughout, moving quickly to meet any long balls into his area. Ronan Watkins replaced the industrious Josh Johnston early in the second half and within 5 minutes of coming on he continued his great run of form at the minute when Ethan Gorman found him with a ball across the front of goal and Ronan made sure it hit the target. Town were 3-1 up at this stage and were particularly comfortable and in control of the game with the Lurgan defence doing their job in a professional manner leaving James Hamilton without much to do from open play. The fifth goal of the game really did come against the run of play when James Hamilton came running out to collect a fast moving ball on the right hand side of his box he continued to slide handling outside the area and making contact with the opposition striker who was also travelling at speed. The TTBS number 10 who was strong throughout the game stepped up to take the free kick from a great position curling it into the far top corner. Back to 3-2 but Town weren’t giving up and Ronan Watkins added to his tally getting his second for the evening and sixth of the season when he swivelled on a ball in the TTBS box catching it on the half volley and putting it over the keeper and into the roof of the net stretching the Town lead again with a 2 goal cushion. All credit to TTBS though they weren’t for surrendering and found themselves back in the game with 5 minutes to go, again from a set piece. This time played in from the left hand side of the pitch the ball was allowed to bounce a couple of times in the danger area before an opposition player tucked it away at the back post. Town held out until the final whistle to take another important 3 points and remain unbeaten after their opening 6 league games sitting top of the league table.
Credit to the boys for grinding out this result, It was a difficult game to get going in with a lot of high long balls which the Town defence tidied up well, but it meant they boys found themselves playing a different type of game than they probably would have liked. Lurgan created the majority of the chances from open play and could have been a couple of goals up before eventually opening the scoring. The opposition goals all came from set piece/dead ball situations which Town unusually struggled to deal with this week. It was however positive to watch the boys adopt to a different style of game and dig in for the three points. This is a team that is working for each other and seeing the just rewards of that hard work playing out in the league table.
Team: James Hamilton, Sofian Mouhsine, Kyle Thompson, Adam Vennard, Mark Christie, Ben Cullen (1), Aidan Cassidy, Tom Leatham, Ethan Gorman, Ronan Watkins (2), Mackenzie Craig (1), Josh Johnston, James Maguire, Spencer Young, Jake Turner, Kyle White