Rainey ES U16 Soccer boys made the short trip to Mallusk Playing Fields for quarter-final day against St.Colms of Twinbrook.
During the warm up, some of the Rainey boys noticed some stand out talent within the St.Colms squad as they had two Northern Ireland internationals in their starting line-up.
The Magherafelt boys got the game underway and put St.Colms under immediate pressure, with good wing play from David Lennox supported by central midfielders, Pearce McLarnon and Harry Evans. The Rainey’s early pressure had looked to have paid off as they had the ball over the St.Colms goal line, or at least they thought they had. The Twinbrook goalkeeper managed to grab the ball as it went in, as Rainey started to celebrate the referee said no and waved play on.
Just as Rainey had finished their attack, St.Colms hit them on the counter. Bursting down the left hand side, playing some neat football in and around the box before unleashing a shot on goal only for left back Kaelum Irvine to deflect it over the bar for a corner.
The lads from Magherafelt dominated play by keeping the ball in their opposition’s half. But the Rainey midfield switched off momentarily allowing St Colm’s to hit them on the counter. The Belfast school worked the ball up the field before throttling a shot at the Rainey net, only for Rainey ES keeper Jamie Beggs to pull off an absolutely astonishing save to keep the match all square.
St.Colms got the second half underway and straight from kick off, launched the ball on top of the Rainey defence, superbly handled by central defender Jason Dripps who headed away confidently. Rainey pushed on and continued to control the flow of the game creating a big chance for right winger Matt Currie, who shot low and hard at the St.Colms goal but was stopped by the second Northern Irish international goalkeeper!
Rainey probed and pressed and created yet another chance to put themselves on the score sheet as Pearce McLarnon pounced upon a mistake by the defence for his shot to be deflected into the air, Pearce followed up with a header directed towards an open St.Colms net and started to celebrate as the ball crossed the line only for the referee to wave play on as the St.Colms keeper once again, grabbed the ball as it crossed the line.
Frustrated, Rainey looked to go forward again with a great ball up the left hand side by Kaelum Irvine to striker David Dripps, who laid it off to supporting player Pearce who then with great composure, switched the play to Matt Currie on the right hand side. He had beaten the offside trap and unleashed another low and hard effort on goal which found its way into the corner of the net to make it 1-0.
St.Colms now had an even greater desire to get forward. Lumping the ball on top of the Rainey defence and dealt with very well by the solid back four who had more or less been solid all game so far.
The city boys tried playing on the edge of Rainey’s box but great work from Stephen Greer saw him get a tackle in and a counter attack started for the boys in red and white. St.Colms later cleared after immense pressure once again from the hungry Rainey side that looked to add to their goal tally.
Rainey who had worked hard all game then all of a sudden were given a huge blow as four players went down injured. The Magherafelt lads were then forced to make three changes in order to get some fresh legs on the pitch.
Into the last ten minutes of the game and St.Colms kept probing and it showed and twice the defence were caught out from two superb through balls that had the oppositions striker clean through on goal only for Sam Hardy to save Rainey’s lead twice and keep St.Colms out.
Moving into the last five minutes of the game and Rainey’s goalkeeper Jamie Beggs produced four superb saves.
Rainey then went up the other end of the pitch and had the ball in the back of the net, one of the substitutes Thomas Boyle with the goal but yet again the referee ruled it out for a foul on the St.Colms defender who looked to have been clattered by his own keeper.
The Belfast lads then started another attack but for the referee to blow for the final whistle.
Rainey ES have now reached the semi-final of a soccer competition for the first time in the school’s history.
This was a tremendous effort from all the lads who will now face Omagh Academy in the last four tie that will take place at Meadowbank Sports Arena on Wednesday 9th March, with a 2pm kick off.
All support welcome to what hopes to be another historical day for the Rainey ES Soccer Boys.