Magherafelt Sky Blues reserves fall short in thriller against Antrim Rovers

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SKY Blues Reserves travelled to Antrim taking on Antrim Rovers in what turned out to be a physical encounter with lots of tackles and goals.

The blues with back to back league defeats were determined to change that statistic early on with a promising start and good possession through Bradley and Bell in the middle of the park.

As the first half went on both teams had half chances with Shane Henry and Conor Bradley going closest for the blues.

However Antrim Rovers had chances too and took one when a dangerous throw in was sent deep into the box which the young Blues keeper under pressure could only clear to the Antrim attacker who was first to the ball from a goal mouth scramble. Half Time Antrim Rovers 1 - 0 Sky Blues Reserves.

The Management team of Declan and Stephen were not impressed at the break with some players having tempers get the better of them shortly before half time.

After encouraging words from the Managers the Blues aimed to start the second half with a good start! Unfortunately this was not the case as two quick Antrim goals caught the blues napping and with the score now being 3 - 0 the game seemed done and dusted. That was far from the case as for the second time this season the blues found themselves coming back into the game.

A Blues attack led to there first goal as Antrim tried to play the offside trap but with the referee over ruling the ball feel to Shane Henry who without hesitation put the ball in the back of the net! 3 - 1.

This goal gave the blues a massive lift and with momentum there took the game to Antrim. Some great midfield play led to a pass to Rob Niblock who found himself in great space to deliver a fantastic cross which fell to the head of the returning Conor Bell who placed his header beautifully into the top corner.

This sunk Antrim and the Blues were on top. 5mins later and to the shock of the blues an attack from Antrim led to there 4th goal when the ball was swung in being half cleared fell kindly to the Antrim attacker 4 - 2. This led to Manager Declan changing the system to 3 at the back with Niblock moving from right back into midfield with O’Kane McGuckin and Trainer holding the back line. Wilkinson then came off the bench for striker Carlos and his trickery wing play gave the blues something different in attack.

More chances fell to the blues with the impressive Bradley coming close again with a shot from the edge of the box which went over.

Manager Declan then made his second sub with Aaron Bradley coming on for Bell who after a hard shift and a deserving goal had to come off with injury.

The Blues were pushing for more goals which resulted in Antrim to produce counter attacking football and they would have scored there fifth only for Gribbin in nets to produce a top save.

It was very much end to end at this stage of the game and the blues scored again when a goal mouth scramble from a corner fell to McGuckin who reacted first to finish into the bottom corner for his 3rd goal of the season.

Antrim were starting to lose there grip on the lead and made changes to tighten up there shape. One of the subs caught McGuckin and O’Kane with two bad challenges which on another day could have been red card offences.

Antrim were keeping men behind the ball seeing the game out and with pressure still coming from the blues for a dramatic equaliser time ran out much to the relief and support of Antrim who at 3 - 0 thought the game was over. Final score Antrim Rovers 4 - 3 Sky Blues Reserves.

The Management team of Declan and Stephen see positives to take with a young blues reserves side just falling short two times this season!

Team: Gribbin Niblock O’Kane McGuckin Trainer Murphy Bell C. Bradley Vitali. Henry Carlos. Subs Wilkinson A. Bradley McCormick.