Lisburn Distillery v Queens University (PLAYR-FIT Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 30th September 2023
It was a third home game on the bounce for Lisburn Distillery on Saturday as we welcomed Queens University to New Grosvenor for a return to league action.
Barry Johnston made three changes to the side that had comfortably beaten First Bangor the previous week in the Intermediate Cup; Josh Lynch dropped out due to suspension and was joined by Ethan Carry and Justin Grattan. This trio were replaced by Craig Robinson in goals, Johnny Newell and Michael Gallagher.
The first chance of the game fell for the home side after six minutes, Gallagher was able to get the ball around Queens goalkeeper, McKenzie Pauley, but dragged his shot slightly wide. For a moment it looked like Ryan McNickle would be able to finish it off at the back post only for the ball to take a slight deflection off a defender, this was enough to prevent the Whites attacker from making a clean connection on the ball and it ended up going out for a goal kick. This was perhaps an early sign that it was not going to be Distillery’s day.
The Whites had a good start to the game, seeing plenty of the ball and playing some good football but that early opportunity was the closest they came to scoring in the early stages and at the other end a Queens free kick from about 25 yards went just wide in the 14th minute.
There was another indicator that luck would not be on the Whites side in the 20th minute when Gallagher cut in from the left and let rip with a shot that struck the inside of the post and somehow bounced away to safety.
In the 23rd minute a good ball through the middle found Joe Tully in the box but the Distillery player could not control the ball and it ran through to Pauley. The Queens stopper immediately put his side on the attack and up the other end; Robinson was called into action for the first time of the afternoon, pushing a Stewart Nixon shot from the edge of the box away from goal.
Nixon was involved again three minutes later when he got to a cross from the left ahead of Robinson but fortunately, he could not direct his first time effort goal wards and the ball went wide.
After the good start from the Whites, the visitors were now beginning to gain the upper hand and would eventually take the lead in the 30th minute. A high cross came into the Distillery box from the left and former Distillery player Mikey Withers headed the ball in after Robinson was unable to get anything on the ball to direct it away from goal.
The game had barely kicked off again when Queens doubled their lead mere seconds after scoring their first and Withers was involved again, this time as the provider. The Distillery defence were cut through with one pass and the pacey number 11 managed to get beyond Woods and crossed into the middle to Nixon who scored from close range.
If Johnston’s side were to take anything from the game at this point, they would need to at least reduce the deficit before the break and things looked promising when Gallagher was put through on goal but the number 10 was forced wide and the chance ended when Queens were awarded a free kick.
Things went from bad to worse for the home side two minutes before the break when Robinson denied Withers and Lorcan McIlroy in quick succession but could do nothing to prevent Johnny Mairs lashing home from the edge of the box, leaving the Whites with a three-goal deficit to overcome in the second half.
Half Time: Lisburn Distillery 0-3 Queens University
Not surprisingly, the Whites management opted to change things up at the break with Grattan and Ryan Sharkey coming on in place of Woods and Newell.
Queens had an early opportunity to score their fourth goal when McIlroy was put through on goal but sent his shot well over the crossbar.
After this Distillery began to control things in terms of possession but seldom troubled the Queens goal and the visitors were quite content to let the Whites knock the ball about.
Kyle Flynn had a shot on goal in the 54th minute that was blocked by a defender and the appeals from the Distillery players that the ball had struck a hand fell on deaf ears. A minute later Sharkey got on the end of a good pass on the right but like McIlroy earlier in the half he could not keep his shot down.
Distillery’s slim chances of getting anything from the game at this point all but completely evaporated in the 62nd minute when Gerard Storey was given a straight red card when he won the ball with a tackle but caught an opposition player high on the follow through.
Queens did score their fourth of the game with nine minutes left on the clock; Nixon managed to outpace the Distillery defence and coolly finished past Robinson.
Distillery substitute, Jamie Devenny, did try his luck with an effort from the edge of the box in the 89th minute but Pauley was able to get two hands to the ball and push it away, this marked the first time the Whites really tested the opposition ‘keeper and perhaps just about sums the day up.
In the end, the referee brought an end to the Whites misery for what was truly a day to forget for the men from Ballyskeagh. Two defeats from three league games does not make for pretty reading but the good news is there is plenty of football ahead, starting with a midweek trip to face Premiership side Ballymena United on Tuesday night.
Full Time: Lisburn Distillery 0-4 Queens University
Lisburn Distillery; Robinson, Lewis, Flynn, McDermott, Woods, Angus, Newell, Tully, McNickle, Gallagher, Storey
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; Carry, Geddis, Grattan (for Woods, 46 mins), Devenny (for Flynn, 62 mins), Cakaj (for McNickle, 62 mins), Sharkey (for Newell, 46 mins), Savage (for Tully, 86 mins)
Report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
David Hunter’s picture gallery from this game can be viewed @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAX7cv