A Close Encounter Between Ardglass And Downpatrick

The Newcastle and District Amateur Football League,

Premier League Match,

Venue: The Meadow, Saturday 30th March 2024,

Final Score: Ardglass 2 2 Downpatrick.

The Newcastle and District Premier League race is certainly hotting up. Today’s draw between Ardglass and Downpatrick makes it a little bit easier for Killough to make a last minute grab for the cup despite Ardglass holding their ground well at the top of the league writes Jim Masson ©.

It is a three cornered tussle, with Ardglass unbeaten this season with the main advantage of leading in points. But Killough have a game in hand behind Ardglass, and Ardglass dare not falter as Killough could win if drawn with their neighbours goal difference.

The clash between Killough and Downpatrick coming soon will also determine where the chips will fall in the league challenge.

Caolan O’Shea on the ball for Ardglass. (Photos by Jim Masson /Down News ©)

So the match today got off to a good start with both sides enjoying full squads. Downpatrick have won their last four matches were on form.

Both sides were initially cautious feeling out each others weaknesses. Michael Magee was almost through with an early charge at the Downpatrick goal but was blocked at the last fling.

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Owen Curran too was playing a sharp game for Ardglass making great runs and crosses on the left wing. Ardglass built confidence and were the first to press their opponents. Jamie McDarby played well and got to the Downpatrick box and launched a left footer but it went over the bar.

But soon Downpatrick were fighting back and a long pass from Nathan McAlister to Dylan Kelly looked promising but the result went off target.

Ardglass then broke onto the Downpatrick box and did all but score. Owen Curran and John Beattie both had shots at close range saved by keeper Ruairi Murphy and in stepped Michael Clarke and hit the ball well but it caught the underside of the top bar and bounced out and was cleared for a corner.

McAlister and Kelly were starting to wind up for Downpatrick and got into serious attacking mode but the Ardglass back line was very tight.

Ardglass keeper James Crangle managed to control a header from Kelly which was not fully powered.

Michael Clarke on the ball for Ardglass as Malachy Curran And Dylan Kelly and Josh Montgomery look on.

Clarke then received the ball and broke forward passing top Magee who charged into the box and collided with keeper Murphy.

But Downpatrick has survived the main pressure thrown at them from Ardglass and they broke forward with Adrian McCoubrey making a fine pass to Anthony Carson who finished off knocking the ball in at close range putting the visitors in the lead in the 21st minute.

Downpatrick has always looked dangerous on the break and this time it paid off. Downpatrick confidence grew and soon they were attacking the Ardglass half more.

Then as Magee ran into the Downpatrick box looking good to score, he was taken down by Josh Montgomery and referee Peter Kelly pointed to the spot.

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Aidan Watson took the penalty and send the keeper the wrong way as he hit into the left hand side of the goal to equalise on 29 minutes.

There was more drama a short time later when Ardglass won a corner and Corey Mahon rose up and headed the ball well but it scuffed over the top post.

Downpatrick replied with a break with Andrew McCoubrey passing to McAllister who crossed to Montgomery who made a solid strike but the ball rose above the bar. Downpatrick has shown they could build goal opportunities quickly.

The visitors looked very keen to take another goal before half-time.

As Ardglass build up an attack, Jamie McDarby was tripped by Anthony Carson and McDarby took the free 40 yards from the goal and his shot went wide off target, but he was having a good game for his side.

Ardglass winger Owen Curran, right, fights to get the ball from Downpatrick’s Josh Montgomery.

Then the game see-sawed back up to the Ardglass half and Downpatrick’s McAlister broke down the right side and passed to Kelly whose solid low shot on target was saved well by Ardglass keeper Murphy on 42 minutes.

As the second half started, Ardglass made a quick break and in the first minute Michael Clarke scored from a cross from McDarby on 46 minutes. Ardglass now had a decisive advantage on their own turf.

Downpatrick fought back with venom and Shea Holland was almost through for a goal by he was quickly closed by the Ardglass defenders.

Downpatrick were feeling their backs were to the wall and started to ratchet up their game and made strong runs at Ardglass.

On one rush at the Ardglass goal Andrew McCoubrey hit the ball at an open Ardglass goal for what look like a gift but Caolan O’Shea appeared like a Will o’ the Wisp from nowhere and kicked the ball off the line.

Jamie McDarby had to go off after receiving a leg injury and was replaced by sub Karl O’Neill. Karl was soon in the thick of the action and just missed a header over the Downpatrick bar.

Then John Beattie made a great cross to Michael Clarke whose shot hit the underside of the top bar and bounced down and was cleared for a corner.

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Magee was nibbling away at opportunities in the goal area and hit over the bar on one occasion.

O’Nell battled his way into the Downpatrick defence and passed to Curran who hit the ball well and earned a corner after a deflection. Ardglass were having a good spell of pressure keeping the ball in the Downpatrick half as much as possible.

Clarke then made a lovely cross to O’Neill but the final kick went askew with a bad contact on trying to first time it at the Downpatrick goal.

On 83 minutes, Andrew McCoubrey hit close in but the ball went to the wrong side of the post, an opportunity missed.

Damien Turley celebrates after scoring the 90th minute equaliser for Downpatrick.

Then as the match was almost over, Downpatrick sub Damien Turley hammered the ball into the Ardglass net in front of the goal on 90 minutes to level the match at 2-2 giving keeper James Crangle no chance.

This was a devastating blow to Ardglass who were forced to settle for a draw and share the points.

It does not seriously damage their league championship hopes but they do have to play contenders Killough yet and need to maximise their points on the home run if they are going to collect the silver this season.

Both teams missed opportunities, and at this late stage in the season, optimising these chances might be a useful strategy and minimising shots kicked over the bar.

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Ardglass FC: 1 James Crangle 2 Malachy Crangle 3 Corey Mahon 4 Caolan O’Shea 5 Jordan Deeghan, 6 Michael Clarke 7 Jamie McDarby 8 Owen Curran, 9 Michael Magee 10 John Beattie 11 Aidan Watson. Subs: 11 Shea Dorian 12 Matthew Rooney 14 Karl O’Neill.

Downpatrick FC: 1 Ruairi Murphy 2 Ryan Cassidy 3 Morgan Fitzpatrick 4 Shea Holland 5 Con Farrell 6 Aidrain McCoubrey 7 Nathan McAlister 8 Josh Montgomery 9 Dylan Kelly 10 Andrew McCoubrey 11 Tony Carson. Subs: 12 Damien Turley 14 Aaron McGarry 15 Jame Harding.