Sports

Boxing Day final awaits for Ardstraw

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Boxing Day final awaits for Ardstraw thumbnailSammy McKelvey celebrates with captain Darren Boyd after scoring from the spot for Ardstraw.

ARDSTRAW coach Gary Simpson is delighted to be in with a chance of securing some silverware at Christmas after overcoming Desertmartin 4-0 in the Craig Memorial Intermediate Cup semi-final at Vaughan's Holm on Saturday.

Ardstraw...4
Desertmartin ...0

Goals from Kristian Gibson, Sammy McKelvey, Paul Fusco and Gary King sealed a comfortable victory that sets up a Boxing Day final with Limavady United.

Simpson is happy to be back in with a shot of a trophy, having lost two finals at the end of 2014, including the Craig Cup to Limavady.

"I'm delighted for the club as a whole, from the committee right through to the players and of course the fans," said Simpson. "It's only right that the club are now moving towards where they should be, as the support the give and there, they deserve to be there.

"I see it as a reward of the last seven or eight years work, long before I came to the club. It's all been down to the committee, they couldn't do anymore.

The committee and fans will enjoy Boxing Day, but for the management and the players, we will be fully focused.

"We are in a much better position this year than we were two years ago. We want to put it right. The experience from those finals will help the players."

Desertmartin didn't offer much in the way of attacking threats in the one-sided encounter, and while Ardstraw peppered their goal from the outset, with Derek Matthews, Gary King and Stephen Campbell all hitting the woodwork before Gibson finally broke the deadlock just after the half-hour mark.

It was 2-0 soon after when McKelvey slotted home a penalty after the same player was tripped up in the box.

Desertmartin keeper David Nelson really had his work cut out for him, and he continued to be busy after the break, saving Kenny Williamson's volley.

he continued to pull off heroics, denying McKelvey, Robbie Godfrey, Campbell and King before Fusco finally got the all important third goal with less than ten minutes to play. Gary King iced the cake with a fine long range free kick soon after to seal the 4-0 win.

"The big positive from Saturday was that we played with a good tempo," said Simpson. "When the ball went dead we wanted to get it back in play quickly. It took us 35 minutes to score, and we hit the wood work three times before that, but we didn't lose composure or get angry with each other.

Simpson also pointed out that his players mustn't rest on their laurels, and that they must maintain their attitude over the next three weeks to ensure a place in the team for the final on December 26.

"We have Newbuildings away in our final game before the break, and that will put us in a strong position.

"It's very important for the players. We have used 22 or 23 players and only 16 can make the team-sheet, so Saturday is very important for the players."

A week's a long time in football, regardless of the player, if the commitment drops off, they'll not play.

But they are such an honest bunch of players. From day one, they have been aware of what's expected of them. I'll put out my fairest team.

Limavady go into the game as favourites, and Simpson doesn't disagree with the underdog label that has been attached to his team, hoping to revel in it.

"Myself and the assistant manager watched Limavady in their semi-final, and we were very impressed with them. they are very good up front and defensively solid. I know Paul Owens personally and I know how hard it's going to be. We are underdogs.

"Everyone would like to be an underdog, but it's not an excuse for not expecting to win. We ourselves know we are capable of winning. If football was played on paper, what would be the point of turning up.

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