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Feast of goals for Athletic

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Feast of goals for Athletic thumbnailStrabane Athletic striker Conor Carlin with the match ball after his first half hat trick against Ballymoney Utd on Saturday.

IN RECENT seasons, trips to Ballymoney have proven troublesome for Strabane Athletic but on Saturday all that changed with the local team helping themselves to a feast of scoring in the Intermediate League Cup.

Ballymoney Utd...0
Strabane Athletic...8

The eight goal margin did not flatter Athletic who produced a display of quality attacking football. Conor Carlin's hat trick was the highlight of the afternoon but there were important contributions from all of Strabane's offensive players and a composed comfortable performance in defence.

The scoring started early when skilful close control from Aaron Porter caused panic in the home defence and the ball broke for Aodhan Doherty to stab home from close range. Doherty was involved in the second goal also when his superb pass allowed Conor Carlin to bear down on goal and force his shot past Ballymoney net minder Liam Coyle to double the lead.

Strabane keeper Ruairi McElroy has had busier days but he made a very important contribution in the eighth minute, brilliantly saving Jordan Craig's penalty which was awarded for pushing in the penalty area. Athletic's dominance after this was such that the Co Antrim men only registered one more shot for the rest of the afternoon.

The third goal owed much to the determination of midfielder Kyle Harte who chased what appeared to be a ball destined to cross the by line. Harte somehow kept it in and laid back for Shane Brennan to supply a pinpoint cross which Conor Carlin met with a well timed close range volley.

The lead became four when a penalty was awarded for a foul in the box and Conor Carlin chalked up his first half hat trick with an unstoppable conversion. A rampant Athletic then produced a lovely move involving Carlin, Harte and Doherty which finished with the latter's shot being well parried by Ballymoney's keeper Liam Coyle. The home goal minder produced another great stop to deny Aaron Porter on the stroke of half time.

Tom Carlin replaced his brother Conor after the interval and was quickly involved in the action, receiving the ball from Aodhan Doherty and supplying Kyle Harte whose shot was a bit too high. This set the tone for the second period which saw sustained Strabane dominance and never a hint of a revival by the home team.

Another exceptional team move produced the fifth. Shane Brennan went on a great forward run and found Ronan McBrearty whose superb cross allowed Aaron Porter to get on the scoresheet with great control and a lovely finish.

Shortly afterwards Porter fired over a corner which hung in the wind before being met with a thumping Christy Gallagher header to make it six. Kyle Harte was the penultimate marksman rifling home a brilliant shot from the edge of the box and Shane Brennan had the last scoring contribution, chipping the keeper and finding the net off an upright.

Birthday boy Oran McShane almost added more icing to the cake but his superb drive from Kyle Harte's pass whizzed past the post right on the final whistle.

Strabane manager Neil Carlin and assistant Eamon Curry will be very happy with the early season flair and defensive assurance displayed by their team. A long season with many tough challenges beckons but the Strabane squad will approach them with confidence.

Due to the unavailability of an Intermediate level pitch Strabane Athletic have regrettably been forced to cede home advantage to Tobermore United in Saturday's Craig Memorial Cup tie. Kick off in Tobermore is 2.30pm.

SAFC: Ruairi McElroy; Mickey Logue; Cal Ryan; Richie Graham; Aodhan Doherty; Christy Gallagher; Shane Brennan; Aaron Porter; Conor Carlin; Kyle Harte; Ronan McBrearty.

SUBS: Tom Carlin; Sean Doherty; Oran McShane.

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