Lisburn Distillery v Portstewart (Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 2 nd April 2022
Lisburn Distillery had the first of a double header against Portstewart on Saturday at New Grosvenor with the Whites hoping to bring a three game losing streak to an end.
The management team made two changes to the side that was beaten against Banbridge the week before, Timmy Clarke and Mick O’Hanlon dropped out of the squad and were replaced in the starting line-up by Jonathan Edge and Caolan Conlon.
The visitors enjoyed a bright start to the game and managed to win a couple of corners early on but were unable to capitalise on these. The first effort on goal for either side really came after nine minutes but Conlon hit his shot from range wide of the goal.
Both goalkeepers were called into action in the opening 20 minutes, firstly Jonah Nicholl had to be alert after 14 minutes to deny The Seahawks after a pass from a quick counter split the Whites defence. Then, four minutes later, Brendan Bennett almost played Jordan Lucas through but the Whites number 10 was just beat to the ball by visiting ‘keeper, Andrew Findlay.
Portstewart did break the deadlock with their next attack after 19 minutes when a cross from Lee Forgrave on the right hand side seemed to catch Nicholl out at his near post and somehow found its way over the line to put the Whites behind.
Just before the 30-minute mark, the visitors doubled their lead when a long kick upfield from Findlay beat almost everyone and Nicholl and Joe Reid both challenged for the ball along with a Seahawks attacker. The Whites players looked like they might have managed to clear the danger only for the referee to point to the penalty spot for what looked to be a harsh decision. From the subsequent penalty, Nicholl guessed correctly but Glenn Law put the ball right into the corner to make it 2-0.
The two goals seemed to stun the Whites and it was Johnny Law’s side who looked more likely to extend their lead with Nicholl and the woodwork coming to the Whites rescue at various times in the closing 15 minutes of the half.
A big improvement would be needed after the break if the Whites were to stand any chance of salvaging anything from this game.
Half time: Lisburn Distillery 0-2 Portstewart
The Whites started the second half brightly and three minutes after the restart came close to pulling a goal back when Bennett saw his effort blocked by a defender and then when the ball fell to Lucas he tried his luck but Findlay was equal to it.
Unfortunately, any hopes of a comeback were all but ended in the 54th minute when Joshua Busteed made it 3-0 with a powerful effort from the edge of the box.
3-0 became 4-0 five minutes later when a rare attack for the Whites resulted in a corner that was subsequently cleared. When the ball made its way to Mark Edgar he spotted Nicholl a long way off his line and went for goal from just inside the Whites half and the ball went right over the Whites keeper and into the net, a strike that even the Distillery supporters could only stand and admire.
A couple of opportunities to reduce the deficit to present themselves for the home side, in the 68th minute a Bennett cross found substitute Caoelain Young but his deader was cleared off the line by a defender. Then, three minutes later Bennett found himself through on goal but instead of going for goal himself squared to Young and again the ball was cleared.
The Distillery management did make a number of changes throughout the half to try and find a way of getting something out of the game; this included a debut for Jason Scott who looked lively after coming on in the 78th minute.
Despite this, it was Law’s men who scored again with just over ten minutes left on the clock with Zach Barr putting the final nail in what was a disastrous day for Distillery.
When the final whistle blew, it was the Portstewart contingent that went home to the north coast smiling while the Whites have plenty to ponder before making the same journey this Saturday.
Full-time: Lisburn Distillery 0-5 Portstewart
Nicholl, Dillon, Edge, Irvine, Reid, Higginson, Conlon, Harris ©, Sullivan, Lucas,
Lisburn Distillery substitutes;
Pollock, Angus (for Edge, 78 mins), Lundy (for Dillon, 78 mins), Moore,
McAuley (for Harris, 36 mins), Young (for Higginson, 66 mins), Scott (for Bennett, 78 mins).