Match Report – East Belfast v Lisburn Distillery (Toals.Bet.com Steel & Sons Cup 3rd Round) – Saturday 9th September 2023
Lisburn Distillery returned to Steel & Sons Cup action on Saturday with a trip to East Park to face East Belfast in the third round of the competition.
Distillery manager Barry Johnston made four changes to the starting eleven from the previous weeks win against Banbridge; Dean Lewis, Carter Savage, Josh Lynch and Joe Tully replaced Ryan Sharkey, Johnny Angus, Michael Gallagher and Jamie Devenny in the side.
Both sides had early opportunities to threaten, in the first minute Lewis had a shot for Distillery following a throw in but after a couple of deflections, the ball went out for a goal kick. Two minutes later at the other end a cross flashed across the Whites goal but fortunately no East Belfast player was able to get anything on this.
The visitors did open the scoring in the 10th minute, Kyle Flynn’s effort on goal was parried away by Aaron Carberry but the ball fell into Tully who swept home from the edge of the box despite the best efforts of a defender on the line.
East Belfast had efforts to equalise from Nathan O’Neill and former Distillery player Nick Beta in the 17th and 19th minutes but neither were able to find the target and shortly after this Tully sought to double his and the Whites tally but his effort from outside the box following a Flynn lay off was saved by Carberry.
Just before the 30-minute mark, Tully and Ryan McNickle linked up well but the referee blowing for offside halted the attack. Seconds later McNickle had a golden chance to double the lead when he got on the end of a Flynn cross but he sent his close range effort straight in the hands of the grateful Carberry.
Johnston’s side would come to regret this missed opportunity as in the 32nd minute an East Belfast free kick deflected off the wall but fell fortuitously for Rhys Kelly who hammered home to equalise, despite the Distillery players appeals for offside. Two minutes later, the game was turned on its head when Nathan Best’s effort from the edge of the area went in off Craig Robinson’s left hand post.
The home side could have scored their third goal in four minutes in the 35th minute but Robinson was able to block a close-range effort with his legs and a moment later was called into action again to push the ball away for a corner.
Distillery ended the first half strongly, in the 41st minute Lewis sent a great ball into the box from the right but McNickle could not get enough on it to beat Carberry. Then in the 44th minute Johnny Newell’s low effort from the edge of the box struck the base of the post and Carberry managed to claim the loose ball before McNickle could get to the rebound.
Half-Time: East Belfast 2-1 Lisburn Distillery
The home side were the first to threaten after the break, a cross into the Distillery box was only partially cleared but Beta blazed his effort over the bar.
Then in the 53rd minute East Belfast really should have put the game to bed when O’Neill tried to capitalise on a Robinson error but with the goal at his mercy his effort trickled across the goal and past the post for a goal kick when it seemed easier to score.
Perhaps buoyed on by this lifeline the Whites began to get up the other end and only a great save from Carberry denied debutant Gerard Storey, who headed goalwards from a Tully cross after a corner had been cleared and was recycled into the box by the Distillery goalscorer.
The equaliser did come with 56 minutes on the clock, and it involved the same two players from the first Distillery goal, this time it was Tully whose path to goal was stopped by Carberry, but Flynn made no mistake with the second attempt as he hammered home to draw the sides level.
With just over 20 minutes on the clock, Tully and McNickle linked up again and once more it was for former who was through on goal but this time, he was forced wide and when he eventually did get a shot off Carberry had it covered. Carberry then set his team off on the attack and when the ball was played forward the Distillery defence and goalkeeper seemed to stop expecting an offside decision, which never came, and the ball was delivered into the box where second half substitute, and another former Distillery player, Taylor Evans put the home side back in front.
Distillery huffed and puffed for the remainder of the game but unfortunately the final ball just seemed to be lacking a little in the final third. The closest the Whites came to an equaliser was five minutes from time when McNickle got on the end of a cross from the right but headed wide when he will perhaps feel he should have at least hit the target.
In the end it was East Belfast who advanced to the fourth round to take on St. James Swifts and with the chances created in the game Distillery may look at this as I missed opportunity. We go again on Saturday as we return to home comforts against Newmills in the Irish Cup.
Full Time: East Belfast 3-2 Lisburn Distillery
Lisburn Distillery; Robinson, Lewis, Flynn, McDermott, Woods, Lynch, Newell, McNickle, Tully, Grattan, Savage
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; Cakaj (for Newell, 60 mins), Devenny (for Flynn, 88 mins), Storey (for Woods, 46 mins), Sharkey, Carry
Match report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
David Hunter’s Picture gallery from this game can be found @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAUbV4