Football: Battling display yields nothing for Cookstown RBL

Battling Cookstown Royal British Legion frustrated runaway league leaders Ballyclare Comrades Reserves, but eventually succumbed 3-0.

Tuesday, 5th April 2016, 7:21 am
Cookstown RBL's Steven Ramsay clears the danger during last Saturday's league clash with Sport & Leisure Reserves played at Beechway.INMM0516-384

It was always going to be a tough game for RBL at Antrim Forum last Saturday and the win put Comrades 15 points clear at the top of Junior Division 1, boosting their goals-scored tally to 90.

RBL boss Derek McPartland wasn’t helped by the absence of no fewer than seven players, including Stevie Purvis, Aaron McPartland, Johnny Taylor and James Dunn.

Thus he could hardly do anything other than set his team out in a defensive formation in an effort to frustrate free-scoring Comrades.

And for the first half hour of the match the plan worked, with Ballyclare seeing plenty of the ball but struggling to unlock a resolute defence.

But the first goal was the result of poor marking, a simple ball flighted into the box and Comrades players were queuing up at the back post to beat Neil Young in RBL goal.

Five minutes later, Comrades doubled their lead when a shot from just outside the box took a wicked deflection, leaving Young with no chance.

The visitors rallied, but Lee Hunter was ploughing a lone furrow up front and although RBL did work themselves into a few good positions, they failed to test the goalkeeper.

And, with five minutes left in the first half, RBL went further behind as a 25 yard wonder strike flew past Young.

If Ballyclare thought they’d extend the lead at leisure in the second half they were mistaken, Legion were beginning to create the odd chance, with Stephen Ramsay and Gareth Ramsay causing problems. With an hour gone James McPartland had RBL’s best opportunity, but slicing wide with the goal at his mercy.

He then had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Hunter put him through, the keeper appearing to bring the forward down.

RBL are next in action on April 16 when they travel to Desertmartin Swifts, 2pm.