Lisburn Distillery v Warrenpoint Town (Playr-Fit Teamwear Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 23rd December 2023
Lisburn Distillery welcomed Warrenpoint Town to New Grosvenor on Saturday for the final home game of 2023.
The visitors were unbeaten in the league this season going into the game, though the Whites had picked up five points from the last nine available to them so had reason of their own to be confident.
There were two changes made to the Distillery starting eleven from the previous weeks game against Portstewart, Ryan Sharkey and Michael Gallagher dropped out and Justin Grattan and Robert Geddis started in their places.
The home side applied some early pressure and had the first sight of goal in the 8th minute after Gerard Storey won a free kick 30 yards from goal. Joe Tully’s effort hit the wall and looped upwards, eventually falling for Johnny Newell inside the box but his shot from a tight angle was saved by ‘Point goalkeeper, Lewis Deane, and eventually the ball was ushered out for a corner.
Storey, who had returned to the fray after receiving treatment, took the resultant corner and his delivery was a good one but Tully’s header at the back post went just wide of goal.
Over the next ten minutes both sides had opportunities to threaten their opponents goal with set pieces but Newell’s effort remained the closest either side had come to scoring.
There was a nervy moment for the Whites in the 19th minute when a visiting player got a shot off from inside the box and beat Ethan Carry but fortunately the ball trickled just past the post and a minute later Deane denied Storey with his legs, though the offside flag had been raised already.
There was a moment of controversy in the 22nd minute, Ryan McNickle made a good run down the left and beat Ray O’Sullivan but as the number nine entered the penalty box it looked like he was tripped by the opposing player, but the referee was unmoved.
The visitors finished the first half the stronger, Carry was called into action to push away a shot low to his left and Jim O’Hanlon also had an effort blocked by a defender when Distillery could not clear a long ball into the box. Warrenpoint’s captain, Francis McCaffrey, also found himself with only Carry to beat but went for a dinked effort that sailed over the bar.
Despite this, the Whites had the best chance of the game so far in the final minute of normal time. The ball fell for Newell right in front of goal and with Deane out of the equation but the ball seemed to bounce off the Distillery midfielder and went out for a goal kick.
The last action of the half was Distillery scoring from a corner, but the referee had already blown for a foul on a Warrenpoint player.
No goals in the opening 45 minutes at New Grosvenor and while Distillery had had plenty of the ball it was the visitors who had had the better chances, though one of the big talking points at the break was the McNickle penalty incident.
Half Time: Lisburn Distillery 0-0 Warrenpoint Town
The visitors had the first effort on goal after the break, six minutes in, the ball made its way across the Distillery goal following a free kick and a Warrenpoint player thumped the ball goalwards, but Carry was equal to it.
Moments later, up the other end, McNickle looked to be in on goal, but Deane was alert to the danger and just got to the ball before the Whites player.
The Whites did take the lead in the 56th minute, Grattan was fouled about 28 yards from goal and once again it was Tully who stepped up. This time his effort beat the wall but struck the inside of Deane’s left-hand post but in a moment of fortune for Distillery bounced over the line to open the scoring.
At this point the home side were on top, and Storey attempted to double the lead with a long-range effort after collecting the ball from Tully but his shot was well off target. Storey was involved again in the 67th minute when he went down under pressure from a defender inside the box but once again the referee gestured for the Whites player to get up.
Distillery did double their lead in the 72nd minute, McNickle was able to latch onto a long ball forward and shrugged off the attentions of a Warrenpoint player to cooly slot past Deane and end a run of games without a goal for the summer signing, much to his clear delight.
McNickle thought he had got a second three minutes later when he rounded Deane and rolled the ball into the goal, but the linesman had raised his flag for offside.
Distillery were looking well set to claim three points at this stage, but Warrenpoint set up a nervous final few moments as Stephen Ball sent a looping header past Carry to make it 2-1 in the 87th minute.
Distillery hearts were in mouths in the final minute of normal time when a Warrenpoint free kick was delivered into the Whites box and led to a scramble almost right on the goal line but somehow a Distillery defender finally managed to get the ball away.
The home side managed to restore their two-goal lead in the second minute of time added on, substitute, Jamie Devenny, shot after collecting a pass from out wide and the ball was parried by Deane but right into the path of Storey who scored on the rebound to all but seal the three points for Barry Johnston’s side.
There was still relief when the final whistle blew but plenty of celebration as Distillery celebrated a good win against a strong Warrenpoint side to end 2023 at New Grosvenor in style.
Full Time: Lisburn Distillery 3-1 Warrenpoint Town
Lisburn Distillery; Carry, McDermott, Woods, Angus, Lewis, Newell, Geddis, Grattan, McNickle, Storey, Tully
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; Robinson, Gallagher, Devenny (for McNickle, 90+1 mins), Hosick, Sharkey, Hoy (for Newell, 83 mins)
Match report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
David Hunter’s picture gallery from this game can be viewed @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjB8nVj