Premier Division round-up
EVERGREEN B strengthened their cause to beat the drop when they beat the Lions A team on Sunday. The city side grabbed all three points thanks to a good second half performance at Scanlon Park, but they needed a spur to get going.
After a scoreless first half, the visitors took the lead when they capitalised on a breakaway close to the hour mark, with Ben Wallace grabbing the opening goal.
It took Evergreen just ten minutes to respond, Stephen Guidera levelling matters with a neat header. Chris Traynor netted to give Ollie Walsh’s side the lead, an advantage they doubled when Mark Owens added the finishing touch to a good team move late on.
Huge three points
“It was a huge three points for us, especially with other results” said ’Greens boss Walsh. “Winning the game puts us in a great position to get out of the relegation battle and takes a bit of the pressure off us.
“We looked to be in trouble when the Lions scored on the break, but we dug deep and got the result which leaves the battle to get away from the wrong end of the table in our own hands.”
Evergreen have four games in which to get out of trouble, but the first one will be a massive test – it’s against their A counterparts on the Kells Road on Sunday morning.
“The game against Evergreen A aside, we still have to play Fort Rangers, East End United and Deen Celtic,” he said. “We shouldn’t have been in this position, but breaks for Cup games killed the momentum we had built up earlier in the season, as we had been going well until them.
“That said, we know what we have to do to stay up,” added Walsh. “One or two good results from our remaining games should be enough.”
It wasn’t as good a Sunday morning for Freebooters B and Fort Rangers, who shared the spoils on the Fair Green.
It was a result neither side probably wanted, but Fort were thankful for Tony Moran’s late strike as it rescued a point in stoppage time.
In a typically tight game the sides shared the early chances evenly. Emmet Nugent went close with a one-on-one, as did Aidan Nolan, but neither could get the better of the goalkeepers in a cagey half.
The hosts stepped up the pace in the second half, a move which paid off when they took the lead. After a corner ricocheted around the box Chris Valentine was in the right place to slam the ball home.
’Booters tried hard to add to their lead, but despite increasing the pressure they couldn’t get a second goal. Niall Kiely went close, but was denied by Fort ’keeper Davy Buggy as Rangers held on.
The visitors got due reward for their hard work when they grabbed a precious equaliser in injury-time. Put under pressure from a long ball, Freebooters failed to clear their lines and were punished as Tony Moran won possession and finished from the edge of the box.
“It was a gut-wrenching end to the game for us,” said ’Booters boss Derrick Kenny. “Conceding an equaliser with what was literally the last kick of the game was a real sickener.”
With that draw handing Evergreen B a chance to move level on points but with a game in hand, Kenny admitted it was a missed opportunity for his side to move closer to safe-guarding their Premier Division status.
“Had we won the game we would have put some real pressure on the other teams around us,” he said. “However, we have Deen Celtic and Bridge United to play at home and Evergreen A away. We’re unbeaten at home in the league so we have a chance to get some results here.”
The run-in at the bottom of the Premier Division sees Bridge United A on 17 points with 12 games played. One more win should see them secure their top flight status for another season.
Fort Rangers are fourth from bottom, with 14 points from 14 games. They will play their second last league game of the campaign this weekend, making a return trip to the Fair Green to play Freebooter A.
Meanwhile Freebooters B are below them on 12 points, the same tally as Evergreen B, but the Fair Green side have played one game more than their city rivals. Deen Celtic A prop up the table with eight points from their 13 games. With three matches left to play, they may be fighting a losing battle.