Ten unbelievable minutes at Lough Moss on Saturday has put Carryduff Colts within touching distance of their first ever senior Premier League title.
A goal down early on, the game was in the 80th minute when Rory McDonnell played a captain’s part when he scored a terrific equaliser. Then Sean Irwin fired home an even better winner on the 90th minute before Odhran Devlin pulled off the save of the season in injury time to secure an unforgettable win.
Then word came through from Kilkeel that Ballyvea had suffered a shock home defeat and it’s now game on in this exciting three way race for the league title.
Colts have three games to go and are just four points behind Ballyvea with a game in hand. Annalong are now nine points behind but have four games in hand. Colts travel to Annalong next weekend for what could be a title decider while Annalong and Ballyvea also have to play each other.
Annalong started off better in this tense affair with all the danger coming from set pieces. The warning signs were there when Paul Murphy cleared off the line from a corner and two further set pieces caused panic in the home defence before Annalong took the lead on nine minutes after poor marking at a corner.
With two pacey strikers and a strong defence, their long ball game isn’t pretty but it’s effective and they had the upper hand early on but the superb Joe Sweeney soon put the shackles on their star man and Colts started to come into the game, without creating too much at the sharp end of the pitch.
Annalong’s no. 10 had the freedom of Lough Moss during that opening period but the problem was identified and sorted and Colts came out in the second half a different team.
Sean Irwin was putting himself about and causing problems for their back line while Fergus McBride and Kealan Devlin started to dominate midfield, supported by Paul Maguire and Stevie Doherty. Conor Cassidy and Rory McDonnell didn’t put a foot wrong in the second half with Murphy and Sweeney were superb at full back.
Despite carrying an injury, DA Brownlee started to pull a few strings but was hampered by the injury but he and Irwin almost created the equaliser on 55 minutes when they showed real desire and got the central defender and keeper in a muddle. The ball broke to Doherty 35 yards out and he hit a terrific lob which hit the underside of the bar and bounced clear.
Arron Waddell replaced Doherty, who had a hamstring problem from early on, and Michael Deeny replaced Brownlee on 70 minutes. And with 15 minutes remaining and no sign of a breakthrough Jack Crompton came on for the excellent Maguire to slot in at centre back to allow Cassidy to be pushed up front.
‘King’ made an immediate impact winning balls in the air as Annalong were forced further and further back. And with 10 minutes remaining McDonnell beat their offside trap to find himself one on one with the keeper and he curled a shot around the keeper and hit the inside of both posts before crossing the line.
Colts could have settled for a draw but kept attacking and got their reward when a long throw by McBride found Irwin in the penalty box and he swivelled before firing home an unstoppable volley into the net with his supposed weaker right foot – cue pandemonium!
Annalong had three minutes of injury time to salvage a draw and nearly did so when the ball fell to the striker 10 yards to the left of the goal and he fired in a cracking shot which was destined for the net but Devlin produced a breathtaking reaction save down low to his right to win the game.
Colts: O.Devlin, Sweeney, Murphy, McDonnell, Cassidy, McBride, Maguire (Crompton), Devlin, Irwin, Doherty (Waddell) Brownlee (Deeny)