Queens University v Lisburn Distillery (PLAYR-FIT Premier Intermediate League) – Saturday 27th January 2024
It was a short trip to The Dub for Lisburn Distillery on Saturday to face Queens University for the second time this season, Barry Johnston’s side hoping to reverse the 4-0 scoreline from the New Grosvenor clash earlier this season.
Johnston went for much the same side that came from 2-0 down to beat Banbridge last time out with the only difference being Johnny Newell starting in place of Justin Grattan, new recruits Francis Brennan and Breandan O’Neill started on the bench.
The visitors had a bright start to the game though there was one scare when a back pass from Dylan Whiteway looked a little short but thankfully, Ethan Carry was alert and managed to clear the danger before Queens could take advantage.
Distillery were denied by the woodwork with their first real effort of note in the 11th minute, Nathan Kerr, in goals for the home side, cleared the ball downfield following a Whites counter but sent the ball straight to Jack Berry out on the right who went for a spectacular long range effort that struck the post. Kerr then managed to reclaim the ball to spare his own blushes before the lurking Ryan McNickle was able to finish off the rebound.
Two minutes later Carry was called into action up the other end to push a Declan Martin header from a corner over the bar. Then in the 18th minute the Distillery captain had to show good reflexes when Curtis Woods managed to get his foot to the ball when a Queens player crossed from the left but for a moment it looked like he may have diverted it past his own ‘keeper before Carry got his hands firmly to it.
The visitors were on the attack again in the 21st minute when a Gerard Storey corner from the left was cleared but only back out as far as the Whites number ten. Storey them decided to go himself and beat a couple of defenders but his final shot hit the side netting, much to the dismay of some Whites supporters who thought the November/December Player of the Month had found the bottom corner.
The opening goal came just before the 25-minute mark and it did go the way of the visitors, another corner was delivered into the box. Dean Lewis saw his effort blocked by a defender but this diverted the ball into the path of Johnny Angus, who fired the ball past Kerr to score his first goal for Distillery.
Distillery continued to control much of the ball, though the closest they came to doubling their lead was in the 33rd minute when Storey did well to beat a defender on the byline but his shot from the tight angle was blocked by the legs of Kerr.
Queens almost had a chance on goal in the 43rd minute when a long ball beat the Distillery backline but Woods managed to recover and the clear the danger despite being under pressure from an attacker. Up the other end Queens hearts were in mouths when a defender headed a looping ball forward from Berry back towards his own goal without realising Kerr had come off his line to claim the ball himself but the ‘keeper showed good reactions to hold the ball at close range.
The Whites went in at the break a goal to the good and at this stage in the game; it would be fair to say the visitors were worth the lead.
Half Time: Queens University 0-1 Lisburn Distillery
Whatever James Lavery said to his players at the break clearly had some influence as Queens definitely improved after the break and were seeing more of the ball but Carry remained untested and as such the slender 1-0 Distillery lead remained intact.
A free kick out wide presented the Whites with an opportunity to get men forward on the hour mark and Joe Tully drilled an inviting looking cross into the box but a defender managed to get something on it to head it behind for a corner. The corner was taken short to Tully who went down in the box after being clipped by a defender and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Storey stepped up to take the responsibility as he had done two weeks prior against Banbridge but this time his effort from the spot was not his finest strike and Kerr was equal to it and Distillery’s chance to double the lead and perhaps all but end the game disappeared.
The penalty save seemed to give the home side a renewed sense of hope and in the 64th minute substitute Matthew Hughes sent a free kick from just outside the box not far wide of Carry’s left hand post. Five minutes later the Whites survived another scare when the ball looked like it struck Woods’ arm inside the box but the referee dismissed the home sides appeals. There was also another free kick that ping-ponged around the Distillery box a few times before Carry eventually managed to get his hands to the ball. In the middle of all of this, the closest the Whites came to scoring was a Newell effort from about 25 yards but this did not trouble Kerr.
With just less than ten minutes on the clock Queens brought the scores level when some poor defending out on the right allowed the home player to cross the ball into the box and captain Benjamin Mulgrew sent the ball into Carry’s bottom left hand corner, an equaliser, it would have to be said the home side deserved.
With five minutes to go, the Whites were almost behind but Carry did well to beat a shot from the edge of the box away when it looked destined for the back of the net.
Distillery did have one last chance to snatch the win when debutant O’Neill got on the end of a Berry cross from the right at the back post. However, from a tight angle and under pressure from a defender the new recruit could only send the ball back across the face of goal and with no one there to finish it off the danger was cleared.
In the end both sides had to settle for a share of the spoils when they will perhaps feel they could have gotten more out of it but for Distillery it is another point on the board against a side who will likely be there or thereabouts at the end of the season. We now have the rarity of two home games in a row, starting this Saturday against Rathfriland Rangers.
Full Time: Queens University 1-1 Lisburn Distillery
Lisburn Distillery; Carry, Lewis, Woods, Angus, Whiteway, Geddis, Berry, Newell, McNickle, Storey, Tully
Lisburn Distillery substitutions; McConnellogue, O’Neill (for Geddis, 65 mins), Sharkey, Devenny (for Storey, 86 mins), Brennan (for Grattan, 65 mins)
Match report by Cameron Moore (@cameron2604)
Picture Gallery by David Hunter from this game cn be found @ https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjBcmYH