Limavady United v Lisburn Distillery (Playr-Fit Teamwear Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 6th January 2024
It was a trip to the north-west for the first game of 2024 as we travelled to The Limavady Showgrounds, a place that has unfortunately not been a happy hunting ground for Lisburn Distillery in recent years, to take on league leaders, Limavady United.
New signings Jack Berry and Dylan Whiteway went straight into the side with the returning Pearse McVarnock starting this one on the bench.
The home side had a bright start to the game and with three minutes on the clock a pass from midfield threatened to put Alex Pomeroy in on goal, but a Whites defender was on hand to snuff out the danger. Five minutes later, up the other end, Johnny Newell collected the ball from Joe Tully and some space opened up for the midfielder to shoot but he delayed a second two long and when he did eventually get his shot off it was easily collected by the opposition goalkeeper, Richard Purcell.
In the 13th minute Pomeroy was involved again as he sent a shot goalwards from a right hand cross, but Curtis Woods threw himself in the way of the ball and was able to deflect it over the crossbar for a corner, which was cleared. After preventing The Roesiders from scoring Woods almost made a costly error three minutes later when his back pass to Ethan Carry fell short but the Distillery captain was quick off his line to clear the danger and spare his teammates blushes.
The home side were largely on top at this stage and Ian Parkhill had another shot on Carry’s goal after a good move, but the ball flashed across goal and just wide of the post, but Limavady would take the lead two minutes later. A poor clearance from Carry went straight to Lewis Tosh who advanced on the Distillery goal and sent the ball into the middle were Joe McCready managed to get the ball over the line eventually.
Limavady doubled their lead just over the half hour mark, a Distillery corner was cleared and when Gerard Storey attempted to reclaim the ball he stumbled, this allowed the home side to set off on the counterattack and this ended with Pomeroy rounding Carry and sending the ball into the back of the net.
To their credit, Distillery managed to drag themselves back into the game and midweek recruit Berry was instrumental as he sent a curling ball into the box towards the back post from the left and Ryan McNickle was able to score past Purcell at the second time of asking to halve the hosts advantage.
Frustratingly after finding a way back into the game the Whites conceded again as Tosh was allowed to cut in from the right hand side and hammered the ball past Carry, a good finish from the number eleven but it seemed that the three goals conceded by Distillery could have all been prevented.
Distillery did have a couple of opportunities to score before the break, but Tully’s pass was just too far ahead of Berry and the ball went out for a goal quick and moments later Purcell saved McNickle’s shot so the Whites went in two goals down at half time and all in all, it was a deserved lead for the table toppers.
Half Time: Limavady United 3-1 Lisburn Distillery
Distillery went on the attack right away in the second half and were only denied an equaliser by the woodwork after McNickle managed to get the better of a Limavady defender and shoot from the edge of the box but could only watch as the ball rattled the crossbar and bounced away to safety.
There was a nervy moment up the other end in the 48th minute when Woods slipped chasing the ball back towards the Distillery goal and Limavady sought to take advantage, but Dean Lewis was able to cut out the cross and McNickle was involved again up the other end soon after, but this time his shot was blocked by Tiarnan Boorman.
It was a much improved second half showing from Barry Johnston’s side but Purcell in goal for the home side had still not really been tested and the next time the Whites went close was in the 67th minute when a Tully free kick from 25 yards looked for a moment like it was heading for the top corner but it curled just wide in the end.
Limavady had an opportunity to put the game to bed in the 69th minute when the ball was cut back to Pomeroy from the byline, but he was denied by a fantastic Lewis challenge. Distillery then did add a second goal to their tally just a minute later, McNickle managed to round Purcell and slot home to make it 3-2 and set up a grandstand finish to the game.
Limavady had chances to make it 4-2 in the final 15 minutes, but first Pomeroy was denied by Carry, the first time the Whites ‘keeper had been tested after the break, after finding some space in the box and then Lewis had to block a shot following a poor clearance from Woods.
Things seemed to swing in Distillery’s favour in the 84th minute when Matthew Walker caught Woods high with a late tackle and was shown a straight red card.
Unfortunately, Distillery were not able to make the man advantage count and the closest they came to an equaliser was in the fifth minute of added time when a great crossfield ball found substitute Jamie Devenney out on the left but when he headed the ball back into the box Purcell was able to gather it and eventually a free kick was awarded to Limavady.
In the end it was a game of two halves with Distillery perhaps coming out a bit unfortunate not to have gotten at least a draw from the game, but we move on, and attention now turns to this Saturday’s home game against Banbridge Town.
Full Time: Limavady United 3-2 Lisburn Distillery
Lisburn Distillery; Carry, Grattan, Woods, Lewis, Whiteway, Geddis, Berry, Newell, McNickle, Storey, Tully
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; Hoy, Devenney (for Storey, 73 mins), McVarnock, Sharkey (for Geddis, 86 mins), McCart, Angus
Match report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
David Hunter’s picture gallery from this game can be found @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB9GsP