Moyola Park 2
Moyola travelled to Dixon Park on Saturday looking to improve on last week’s defeat to Wakehurst and also to win for the second successive season against Ballyclare Comrades.
Moyola got off to a great start when they won a corner in the second minute and the unmarked Lucas, six yards out, fired a header past the helpless Flood in the home goal. Comrades looked shell-shocked and struggled to find any rhythm, giving the ball away cheaply too often and being outfought by a fired up Moyola side.
However, on 12 minutes the home team should have been on level terms. Johnny McClurg did well to cut the ball back from the right by-line, where it deflected off a defender into the path of Kyle Agnew, but the Comrades striker could only hit the ball at Maguire from four yards out.
At the other end Comrades had looked very uncomfortable from set-pieces and on 24 minutes they conceded a carbon copy of the first goal. Again a corner was whipped in from the right and once more Lucas found himself poorly marked and was able to glance a header into the net from the edge of the six yard box.
Although Comrades had a decent amount of possession after this they struggled to create anything in the rest of a frustrating first half performance. That was until two minutes into injury-time, when a cross from the left from Gray was headed wide from five yards out by Brown, who had arrived at the far post to meet it.
The second half almost started like the first half for the home side when, inside the first minute, they let Lucas get in behind the defence and Flood had to dive to block his resulting effort from 14 yards.
Having survived this scare, Comrades began to dominate the second period with Moyola content to protect their two goal lead and look for something on the break.
The home side won a string of corners around the hour mark, but could not make anything from them. However, from another set-piece they managed to pull a goal back in the 65th minute. R Higgins won a free-kick in a central position outside the box. McAlea stepped up to take the kick, but rolled the ball to McClurg, who buried it in the top corner with a superb strike from 19 yards.
Ten minutes later, the tide seemed to have turned in Comrades favour when their opponents were reduced to ten men, after Lucas was dismissed for raising his hands in a scuffle. Then, on 81 minutes, Comrades had a great opportunity to level the scores. R Higgins played a deft flick through to set McDowell free to run into the box, where he was bowled over by the chasing defender Kilpatrick. A penalty was given and the Moyola player sent-off. Agnew stepped up to take the penalty, but his effort was too close to keeper Maguire, who saved comfortably.
What had not really been a dirty game saw its third sending off in the 85th minute, when youngster Rainey received his marching orders with a straight red, after what the referee, rather harshly, adjudged to be a dangerous tackle.
As time ticked away, Comrades had two final chances to salvage something from the game. Firstly, in the 88th minute, a Brown cross was headed just over the bar by Pierce from seven yards. Then, a minute later, McClurg played a great lofted ball into box and over the Moyola defence, into the path of RHiggins, but under some debatable physical pressure from a defender he hit his effort over the bar from 8 yards.
This was a great performance from the visitors especially with having two men sent off and player manager Mervyn Pattison will be looking to build on this for next week’s home game against Queens University.
Moyola Park: Maguire, Kilpatrick, Stewart, McQuillan, Whiteside, McFadden, Hassan, McClean, Melly, Lucas, Magill. Subs: Spiers, Pattison, Doey, Lennox.