Rampant Athletic in seventh heaven
Thursday, 9 March 2017
Strabane Athletic 7
Ballymoney Utd 0
THE latest round of Intermediate League fixtures saw last year's champions Ballymoney Utd visit Melvin Park on Saturday.
They were welcomed by a rampant Strabane Athletic side who helped themselves to seven goals in a very impressive display.
Winger Shane Brennan got the ball rolling early for the local lads when he headed home from close range in the first minute of the game. It was all Strabane in the opening stages and they could have gone further ahead when, after nice approach work Conor Carlin shot over the bar. Conal Crawford then produced good skill to create a shooting chance but his effort was held by visiting keeper Liam Coyle.
The County Antrim side were offering little in attack and when they did manage a foray into Athletic territory, they were hit with a swift counter attack which saw Aaron Porter find Conor Carlin who finished superbly to put his team two goals up. Athletic's third arrived courtesy of a brilliantly placed free kick by Conal Crawford.
As the half drew to a close Ballymoney's best move saw striker Cory Moore through on goal but Strabane keeper Ruairi Mc Elroy advanced quickly to make a superb save. On the stroke of half time Athletic striker Aaron Porter had a header parried by the keeper but Oran McShane was on hand to finish from close range and give Athletic a 4-0 lead at the interval.
It was now an extremely difficult task for the current title holders but to their credit they emerged at the start of the second half and produced their best attacking spell of the game. They created a few chances and forced Ruairi Mc Elroy into another fine save diving low to his right to turn a good shot past the post.
It wasn't long however until Strabane reestablished their dominance of the game and the fifth goal arrived when Porter found Crawford whose first effort was parried but his second found the net. Gary Henderson wasn't far away with a shot and Aaron Porter rattled the upright before Crawford sealed his hat trick playing a lovely one two with Porter and smashing home from 12 yards. With three minutes to go Aaron Porter provided his fifth assist of the day setting up substitute David Taylor for Athletic's seventh.
On a day when they welcomed former skipper Liam McMenamin back to the squad, Strabane Athletic produced a great display of quick passing football and clinical finishing. The match ball went to hat trick hero Conal Crawford but the team was well served by all the players as they clinched their fourth win in a row.
Athletic will hope to keep climbing up the table when they entertain neighbours Ardstaw Utd in a local derby match next Saturday, kick off 2pm at Melvin Park.
SAFC:Ruaidhri McElroy: Aodhan Doherty; Cal Ryan; Aaron O'Hagan; Liam McMenamin; Gary Henderson; Oran McShane; Conal Crawford; Conor Carlin; Aaron Porter; Shane Brennan; Sean Ferry; Rian McKelvey; Ronan McBrearty; David Taylor.
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