Evergreen A 2
East End United A 0
EVERGREEN’S hopes of a League and Cup double remain on track.
A goal in either half did the job for the city side, as the Premier Division leaders got the better of East End United’s A team in the McCalmont Cup semi-final at Derdimus on Sunday afternoon.
The winners were sent on their way when Jamie Owens made the breakthrough minutes after the half hour mark. The goal came at the end of some tough tackling and fighting for possession, with Oisin Corr battling to win the ball and knock it through for Owens.
The striker watched as the ball dropped over his right shoulder then, from the right side of the target, connected with a sweet volley that flew past ’keeper Patrick O’Neill.
Evergreen were good value for their lead, having had the lion’s share of the early opportunities. They set their stall out very early, using swift passes and teamwork to keep the ball away from East End.
Evergreen gave a swift warning when, after just two minutes, they almost broke the deadlock. Keeping play moving goalkeeper Pierce Dargan sent full-back Tommy Earls on his way down the right, before neat inter-play by Mark Cashin and Jamie Owens fed Niall Andrews in the corner. His low cross flew past the East End defence, but the ball had just too much zip for Michael Cashin to connect at the back post.
East End settled after that scare, but could so easily have leaked the opening goal after 20 minutes. Once again pace up front proved the way forward for Evergreen, as a speedy exchange of passes saw Brian Jordan play Owens through on goal. He managed to fire his shot past O’Neill, but Ross Dowling was on hand the clear the ball off the line.
The pressure finally told when Owens made the breakthrough soon after, but East End almost hit the perfect reply. Evergreen’s defence creaked open in the 41st minute, just long enough to allow Sean Falsey to race through on goal, but Robbie Quan dashed their hopes with a fine tackle just as the striker was poised to pick his spot.
Evergreen heeded that let-off, and used it to create another chance that could have doubled their lead in the dying seconds of first half normal time. Tommy Earls’ booming throw-in was flicked on by Owens into the path of Mark Cashin, but his shot was brilliantly beaten away by O’Neill.
The danger wasn’t over though, as Vinny O’Brien kept the ball in play and went for goal, but his shot flashed across the face of the target.
The second half was just nine minutes old when Evergreen all but secured their place in the final.
As with the first goal Oisin Corr had a part to play in the strike, the midfielder winning possession in the centre before working the ball to Jamie Owens. Quick as a flash he slipped Mark Cashin through the centre, the winger doing well to draw Patrick O’Neill from his line before firing a low shot to the far side of the goal.
The game could and should have been put to bed when Evergreen went close to grabbing a third goal on 64 minutes. Brian Jordan looked like hitting the insurance goal when he latched on to Niall Andrews’ pass and then rounded O’Neill, but his shot was cleared off the line by the back-tracking Liam McEvoy.
East End continued to fight for a way back into the game, but couldn’t find a way past Pierce Dargan. Full-back Andy Lowry went really close when he met Sean Falsey’s corner with a diving header on 67 minutes, but the ball bounced straight into Pierce Dargan’s chest.
They went close again when Lowry fired in a dangerous cross on 76 minutes, a delivery which forced Dargan to tip the ball on to his own crossbar, but defender Mark Andrews was there to mop up the loose ball ahead of United’s forwards.
East End hardly needed any further proof that it wasn’t going to be their day, but they got it in the dying seconds. Still hunting for goals, they almost got one when sub Michael O’Neill sent a powerful header spinning towards the far corner of Dargan’s net in the closing seconds, but they were denied any consolation as Earls booted the ball off the line.
Evergreen A: Pierce Dargan, Tommy Earls, Vinny O’Brien (Sean Maguire, 71 mins), Mark Andrews, Robbie Quan (Lee Delaney, 85 mins), Oisin Corr, Mark Cashin (Chris Whearty, 61 mins), Niall Andrews, Brian Jordan, Jamie Owens, Michael Cashin.
East End United A: Patrick O’Neill, David Harkin, Andy Lowry (Wayne Walsh, 90 mins), Liam McEvoy, Eddie Fitzgerald, Willie Walsh (Michael O’Neill, 63 mins), Wayne Dowling, Sean Falsey (Tommy Jordan, 85 mins), Paul Murphy, Robbie Ryan.
Referee: Packie Geoghegan. Linesmen: Eoin Walsh, Patrick O’Connor.