Welcome return to league action for Athletic

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Welcome return to league action for Athletic thumbnailDungiven's David McLaughlin gets a foot on the ball ahead of Strabane's Aodhan Doherty.

STRABANE Athletic's return to competitive Intermediate League action yielded a valuable three points when they welcomed Dungiven Celtic to Melvin Park at the weekend. Athletic were testing Dungiven keeper Darrell McDermott as early as the fourth minute when Richie Graham headed a corner goalwards which was safely held.

Strabane Athletic ...4
Dungiven Celtic...1

Strabane were passing and moving well in these early stages and it wasn't long before a fluent attack found Ronan McBrearty on the wing but his shot across the box eluded everyone and the chance was gone.

Athletic were totally dominant and another chance went begging in the 20th minute before Dungiven finally mounted an attack and it took a well timed tackle from returning defender Aaron O'Hagan to avert the danger. From the resulting corner the home side were glad to see Sean Doherty head the ball off the goal line.

These scares stung Athletic into an immediate reply and Aaron Porter showed great close control to create an opening but his shot rebounded off the crossbar. Conal Crawford was next to try his luck with two shots in as many minutes, one was saved and the other went just wide. The efforts were raining in from Strabane at this stage mostly from Crawford who also saw a free kick palmed over the bar. 



Strabane were handed a distinct advantage just before the interval when Dungiven's Conor O'Kane was shown a straight red card for a dangerous lunge at Aaron O'Hagan but overall it was a frustrating half for Athletic and it was still all square when the whistle was blown.

Playing against a tiring ten men, Strabane now held all the aces and after Taylor knocked a free kick over the bar Conal Crawford finished a good passing move to break the deadlock. Gary Henderson then played a fine one two with Aaron Porter but saw his shot blocked by a defender on the line. O'Hagan made a fine break from defence and found Taylor whose effort hit the side netting as Athletic pushed hard to increase their lead.

The second goal duly arrived and it owed a lot to a fantastic run by Ronan McBrearty who beat three men before passing to David Taylor and he provided the fine finish that the build up deserved.

The stage was set for Athletic to score a few more and there were a couple of headed opportunities for McBrearty. However the match took a surprising turn in the 70th minute when the Strabane defence dealt badly with a cross and Dungiven forward Emmet Duffy reduced the arrears with a well executed lob from the edge of the box. 



This led to a period of uncertainty for the home side who were rattled temporarily and subjected to an aerial bombardment which saw Graham, Doherty and O'Hagan all required to make headed clearances. Athletic did manage to re-establish their grip on the game and Sean Doherty had a shot tipped over before Gary Henderson was just wide from a corner. The same player was not to be denied a second time and converted a low corner from close range to ease Strabane nerves in injury time. There was time for a consolidation goal from substitute Sean Lynch who finished off a nice run and cross by David Taylor.

So the scoreline eventually reflected Strabane's superiority and the three points were a good boost to their efforts to stay involved in the title race. The local team will be right back in the hunt if the can secure another win when Trojans visit Melvin Park on Saturday.

Strabane Athletic: Ruairi McElroy; Sean Doherty;Ronan McBrearty; Richie Graham; Aaron O'Hagan; Gary Henderson; David Taylor; Conal Crawford; Aaron Porter; Aodhan Doherty; Oran McShane; Adhamh Bonner; Dylan Forbes; Sean Lynch; Niall Devine.


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