Firsts win sets up biggest game of season

The firsts bounced back from the disappointment of exiting the Harry Clark Cup on penalties the previous week by beating their conquerors Rossglass County 4-1 in the league on Saturday.

Unbeaten now in the league since 1 October, which was the only league defeat all season, the win has set up the Colts up for a huge game next week in Kilkeel against league leaders Ballyvea which could make or break their title challenge.

Sean Irwin, in only his second start was the goalscoring hero netting two fine goals, with Paul Maguire and top scorer Stevie Doherty also finding the net.

Last week, Carryduff were slow out of the traps but were determined not to make the same mistake and were 2-0 up within a quarter of an hour.

The first came after eight minutes when man of the match contender Calum McSorley refuse to give up on a ball in the corner that the defender appeared to have under control but McSorley picked his pocked before firing over an inch perfect cross. Irwin got across the defender and was in exactly the right position to turn the ball into the net for the opening goal.

Five minutes later it was 2-0 when a pinpoint Darragh Brownlee corner was met with a terrific header by Maguire to score his fourth goal of the season in his eighth league appearance – an impressive return for a defender.

But just when it seemed Rossglass were on the rack, some slack play and a let up in the high pressure game allowed them to get a foothold in the game but two outstanding saves from goalkeeper Odhran Devlin kept the lead intact. The young goalkeeper’s distribution was also second to none throughout the game and gave the team an extra attacking dimension.

The Colts had a chance to extend their lead shortly after when Brownlee should have scored after he skipped past a couple of defenders but took one touch too  many and the defender was able to get back to block his shot.

Rory McDonnell and Conor Cassidy had to be on high alert during this period of the game and backed up by the experience of Sparky Hegney and the commitment of Maguire, they saw the difficult period through before regaining control of the game through Kealan Devlin, with some terrific passing, and the dynamic work of Fergus McBride.

The Colts came out of the traps at the beginning of the second half and made it 3-0 within 10 minutes of the restart. Stevie Doherty made one of his trademark runs down the left, cleverly flicking the ball past the full back and his accurate cross found Irwin who crashed the ball into the net with an emphatic finish. But again concentration levels slipped and Rossglass were able to pull one back on the hour mark and it looked like game on again.

Carryduff then brought on Conor Magee for Fergus McBride who was walking a tightrope after the fussy referee put him on an unjustifiable final warning for his tackling and Irwin had run his course so Jamie Maynes came on to make a welcome return to first team action. Magee’s introduction did nothing to disrupt the team as he continued to press and work hard while Maynes speed, skill and hard work gave Rossglass something else to think about. In one incident he won three tackles in quick succession before coming away with ball, epitomising his never-say-die attitude.

Colts restored their three goal cushion with 20 minutes to go when Doherty was brought down in the box and casually slotted home the penalty for his 13th goal of the season. It was also the sixth consecutive league game in which he has found the net – making it 10 league goals in just eight starts and one substitute appearance.

Brownlee had another chance to add a fifth but in a carbon copy of his first half chance he took a touch too many when he looked certain to score, while Hegney also came close with a great back header from a Brownlee free kick but the goalkeeper saved. Soon after, Hegney made way for young Arron Waddell who as usual brought a spark and energy to the team which saw them secure the three points.

Now all eyes turn to Kilkeel…..

Colts: O.Devlin, Hegney (Waddell), Maguire, McDonnell, Cassidy, McBride (Magee), McSorley, K.Devlin, Irwin (Maynes), Doherty, Brownlee

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