Bridge United A 2
Lions A 1
BRIDGE United’s bid to beat the drop gained more momentum as they tamed the Lions on their way to three more precious Premier Division points.
Victory over the Durrow men has left the Goresbridge outfit in a strong position as the number of games left in the league gets smaller and smaller.
United have now moved out of the bottom three, leapfrogging Freebooters B and Fort Rangers and are sitting fifth in the table with five games to play.
They got there thanks to an impressive second half performance, putting their shoulders to the wheel to see off the team who beat them to the Division One league title last season.
The breakthrough came with just 14 minutes left on the clock. Typically, striker Sean Barcoe was involved – but not, as expected, at the end of the move.
Having dropped into a midfield role, stifling what had been a dominant sector for the Lions, Barcoe unlocked the visitors when he latched on to a ball out of defence.
Spotting a gap at the back, Barcoe’s quick low pass was inch-perfect for Sean Murphy. Holding off the last defender he timed his run to perfection, steering a low shot across the advancing Paul Shortall and inside the far left post.
The celebrations that greeted the goal highlighted the outpouring of relief from the Bridge contingent, who were under pressure to get the result. They had been under the cosh from the off, working hard to contain a Lions team who effortlessly moved the ball from left to right as they broke forward time and again.
The visitors had a great chance to take an early lead when Darren Lynch fizzed in a low cross after just two minutes. The ball arrived at pace at Michael Dooley, who stuck out a foot at the delivery, but his effort was straight at netminder Zak Shermar.
Lynch and Dooley were often at the end of sweeping moves from the visitors, with Liam Dowling, Shane McCann, Lee Campion and Niall Brophy all providing attacking outlets through defence and midfield. A foul on Campion gave Lynch the chance to go for goal from a free on 34 minutes, but Shermar did well to tip the stinging shot on to his crossbar.
The Lions kept driving forward and should have taken the lead just three minutes later. This time full-back Shane McCann was the provider, making the angle to pick off Campion’s pass and whip in a cross. Cormac McCann was quickest to react, connecting with a glancing header, but his effort flashed wide of the target.
By the hour mark Bridge were working their way into the game and went close to grabbing an opener. Sean Barcoe almost scored when he got his head to Cathal English’s 62nd minute corner, but his effort was blocked on the line by unfortunate team-mate Michael Brennan.
The action swung back up the other end, where again the Lions were frustrated by the woodwork. Once more Darren Lynch took command of a free-kick outside the box. The striker sent the ball looping over the five-man wall, but saw his kick crash off the crossbar.
Within minutes a relieved Bridge had taken the lead, but the drama wasn’t over. The Lions gave everything in search of an equaliser, Cormac McCann going close with a looping shot Shermar was able to deal with.
The goalkeeper had no such chance when Michael Dooley met Niall Brophy’s excellent 83rd minute cross with a towering header that seemed destined for the net. Shermar was rooted to the spot, but saw the ball loop over the bar.
Although pushed all the way, Bridge made the points safe in the dying seconds of normal time. Barcoe did the damage, going on a crossfield run from right to left before firing a low shot back across the goal beyond the diving Shortall.
The visitors did halve the deficit when Dooley netted an injury-time penalty, but it was not enough to deny United those three precious points.
Bridge United A: Zak Shermar, James Barcoe, Cathal English, Stephen Byrne, James Bolger, Willie Hennessy, Conor English, Michael Brennan, Sean Barcoe, Sean Murphy, Martin Bambrick (Marty Dalton, 57 mins).
Lions A: Paul Shortall, Liam Dowling, Shane McCann, Lee Campion, Kevin Shortall, Murt Clancy, Cormac McCann, David Freeman, Michael Dooley, Darren Lynch, Niall Brophy.
Referee: Tristan Eardley.