Portstewart v Lisburn Distillery (Lough 41 Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 9thApril 2022
Lisburn Distillery made the long trip to the north coast on Saturday hoping for a better day than when Portstewart made the opposite journey last week and went home after a 5-0 victory.
The Whites management made three changes to the starting line-up; Mick O’Hanlon, Jonathan Angus and Caoelain Young started this game in place of Brendan Bennett, Caolan Conlon and Jonathan Edge.
The Whites went on the attack early on and had the first sight of goal in the second minute of play, O’Hanlon sent an inviting cross from the right into the box that evaded everyone until it found Stephen Sullivan coming in at the back post but unfortunately, the midfielder could not keep his shot below the bar.
The home side had their first effort on goal after five minutes when a cross, also from the right, found an attacker unmarked inside the box but shot straight at Jonah Nicholl. Two minutes later and Andrew Findlay, in goal for the Seahawks, was called into action to save a Christian Irvine header at the back post after a corner was only partially cleared and returned into the box by Joe Reid.
The visitors continued to attack when the opportunity presented itself and just before the 15 minute mark some nice work from O’Hanlon saw him leave a Portstewart defender for dead just inside the Whites half and set off towards goal. The recovering home defence soon crowded out the number seven so he attempted to squeeze a ball through to the supporting Sullivan but the danger was cleared just in the nick of time. Young was the next to try his luck on goal when he spotted Findlay off his line in the 21st minute but unlike Mark Edgar’s spectacular effort last week the Distillery players effort went just over the bar.
The opening goal did come for Distillery in the 26th minute when, following a throw in the ball found its way to captain Aaron Harris who volleyed an effort towards goal into the bottom right hand corner, a fine strike to give the visitors a deserved lead at this stage.
Just after the half hour mark Distillery doubled their lead after a free kick was awarded about 30 yards from goal. The Portstewart defence set up expecting to defend a cross into the box but quick thinking from O’Hanlon saw him deliver a low pass further down the left hand channel to Jordan Lucas, this move seemed to catch the home side off guard and allowed Lucas the time he needed to finish past Findlay and make it 2-0.
After two quick-fire goals from the visitors Johnny Law’s side sought to find a way back into the game and pulled a goal back just before half-time when Zach Barr took advantage of some poor play from Distillery inside their own half.
In the end, it was only a fine save from Nicholl from an effort following a shot at point blank range that kept the Whites ahead at the break.
Half time: Portstewart 1-2 Lisburn Distillery
The second half had few talking points in the early stages with Portstewart trying to find a way through to goal but the Distillery defence proving hard to break down. In fact, the first real effort goal for either side this half was not until the 65th minute when a Portstewart player tried his luck from range but could not trouble Nicholl.
The Whites had an opportunity to defend their lead when O’Hanlon and Lucas chased down a long ball up field and put the home defender under enough pressure that he had no choice but to head back to Findlay. It looked for a moment like Lucas might take advantage as the header back fell just short but the Portstewart ‘stopper managed to get a crucial touch to take the ball out of the path of the Whites attacker and eventually the danger was cleared.
With 20 minutes left on the clock Nicholl was the hero again when a cross into the box from a deep free kick found a Seahawks player unmarked at the back post but Nicholl made a fine save from the header onto the post to keep the visitors in the lead.
Lewis Higginson was next to try and extend the Distillery lead, with just less than 15 minutes left to go the midfielder had a shot from range and the ball looked destined for the back of the net only to hit the crossbar and go behind for a goal kick.
Both sides were reduced to ten men with five minutes left to play, a challenge from a Whites player about ten yards into the Portstewart half sparked a melee involving the majority of the players on the pitch and resulted in Irvine for Distillery and Che Bradley for Portstewart being given their marching orders.
Despite this setback, the Whites defence managed to hold firm for the closing stages of the game and come out 2-1 winners to end their recent losing streak and give them players confidence heading into Tuesday night’s game against Newington.
Full time: Portstewart 1-2 Lisburn Distillery
Nicholl, Dillon, Angus, Irvine, Reid, Higginson, O’Hanlon, Harris ©, Sullivan, Lucas, Young.
Lisburn Distillery substitutes;
Pollock, Moore, Morgan (for Sullivan, 90 mins), Brannigan, Conlon (for Lucas, 70 mins), (Scott for Young, 80 mins), Edge.