It was a beautiful morning at the Arena. Both teams arrived and there was a buzz in the air both teams seemingly very confident. The game started at a ferocious pace with Town gaining the upper hand early on. Their press was unreal backed up with some solid defending. 2 or 3 chances were scorned with Ethan Gorman, Ronan Watkins and Krissy Cassels all coming close. The deadlock was broken against the run of play when the referee gave a soft free kick on the edge of the box; 1-0 St Mary’s. The game was end to end at this point, the referee then blew for half time 1-0.
The second half started much the same as the first apart from a rare mistake at the back that could have made the scoreline 2-0 only for the excellent James Hamilton keeping it at 1-0. Then the equaliser. The ball found itself at the feet of the ever hard working and torturous Ronan Watkins who dropped the shoulder after sitting the defender down and rifling a worldie into the top corner 1-1. Town then conceded a second when the whole team switched off and a long ball caught them out; 2-1 St Mary’s.
Town went in search of another equaliser and were pushing hard, playing some really good stuff supported by a back four of Tom, Adam, James and Mark. Their hard work and endeavour paid off when Town got a free kick outside the area to which James Maguire floated a delightful cross to which Adam Vennard rose above everyone to head the ball home; 2-2. Town were now starting to pull the strings with Josh Milne and Sean McNally showing their quality however Town were hit with a devastating blow after an good cross and an equally good finish from the St Mary’s goalscorer, 3-2 St Mary’s.
Town had to dig deep again to search for yet another equaliser. Tom Leatham, James Maguire and Adam Vennard were starting to struggle physically. Changes were made with Josh Milne, Krissy Cassells, Archie O’Neill and Mark Christie becoming the back line. Town were starting to take chances chasing for yet another equaliser. Corner after corner came and the team pushed and pushed when with a couple of minutes left Town got another corner with keeper James Hamilton being sent up to make his presence known. The corner was met and wasn’t cleared and eventually put into the net by the fresh David McNally – the Arena erupted. 3-3. What a game, both teams had given everything. The whistle blew and extra time was to be played.
Both teams were running on empty. Two 10 minutes were to come. Both teams huffed and puffed in extra time going in search of a winner. Extra time flew by and the referee blew the final whistle. Penalties!
Our players came together and the takers sorted in seconds with Luke Kerr, Ronan Watkins, Spencer Young, Kane McMahon and David McNally all demanding to take one and James Hamilton focused on his job. St Mary’s scored their first. Kerr stepped up and dispatched his. It was now Hammer time with Hamilton full stretch to save the second, then time for Watkins to put his penalty away, 2-1 Lurgan. Spencer Young then hit the post with his penalty (no luck) 2-2. Then St Mary’s put the ball over the top. All lurgan had to do was not miss. Kane McMahon dispatched his penalty 3-3. It was down to David McNally to finish it off and he sent the keeper the wrong way and the place went mental.
Fair play to both teams. An excellent advert for youth football but Town had booked a place in the final. Every player gave everything today. It would be impossible to pick anyone for man of the match as everyone played an incredible game well done lads you deserve this.