Division 1a League Match
At the Showgrounds, Killyleagh.
Killyleagh YC 1 0 Sirocco Works.
Report by Chris Hagan.
ADAM Neale scored a priceless winner at The Showgrounds on Saturday.
Neale slotted home his 28th goal of the season in the first half — 22 of them in the league — to inflict the first league defeat of the season on Steel Cup finalists Sirocco.
From the off it was tense and cagey, with Lee Morrison producing the first shot of the game in the eighth minute. However, his speculative effort never seriously troubled Neil Shields in the visitors’ goal.
Sirocco penetrated the YC backline for the first time in the 19th minute but the ref ruled Lewis Irwin had been in an offside position when he fired just wide. There was a repeat in the 22nd minute at the opposite end when Jack Sharvin finished to the net, only to find the whistle had already gone as he too was in an offside position.
Killyleagh took the lead in the 26th minute when Adam Neale raced onto BJ McMenamin’s brilliant pass, rounded the keeper Shields and slotted into the net.
The next goalmouth incident in the 35th minute involved Neale too. As he tried to reach McMenamin’s cross, the referee adjudged that Roc defender Jordan Stewart had pushed Neale. He awarded a penalty and produced a straight red for Stewart. Neale screwed the resultant spot kick the wrong side of the post.
The visitors struggled to test Aaron Carberry in the YC goal with Niall Walsh, JJ Sharvin and Jordan Kennedy standing tall. When Darren Spiers got in, he flashed his shot into the sidenetting in the 39th minute.
Killyleagh went for the jugular at the start of the second half with Kieran Sullivan hitting the crossbar from Jack Sharvin’s pass, and then McMenamin went close twice, with good shots after fine work from Barry Treacey.
The home side continued to look the more likely but the momentum of the game turned again in the 55th minute when Killyleagh’s Morrison was shown a straight red for a lunging tackle on central defender Jamie Fleming. If Sirocco felt hard done by after the first red of the game, Morrison could have no complaints.
With both teams now down to 10 men, Sirocco started to dominate possession. Carberry, though, was well protected with Darren McConnell, Sullivan and McMenamin getting through a mountain of work in midfield as the home side suffered a further setback when the impressive Walsh was forced to limp off.
McMenamin was unlucky in the 65th minute when he did well to work an opening after sub Peter Russell and Adam Neale linked, and then in the opposite goalmouth Michael Bowers flashed a shot wide.
Killyleagh seemed content to hit on the counter attack and Fleming made a telling intervention to clear Treacey’s cross
It was a game without much goalmouth incident but then came two big chances at both ends. Man of the match McConnell picked out Sullivan but with the keeper to beat from 20 yards, he pulled his shot wide. Then within minutes Luke Fisher missed Sirocco’s best chance of the game, shooting high over the bar from the edge of the area.
The home side were getting pushed deeper and deeper as Darren Frame’s Sirocco pushed for an equaliser.
There was one big chance before the final whistle when McConnell, who must have covered every blade of grass on The Showgrounds pitch, missed his header from six yards, with the goal gaping, from Treacey’s free kick in the 82nd minute.
Sirocco ended with nine men after McConville was given his marching orders.
* Killyleagh make the trip this Saturday to second-placed Larne Tech, who are unbeaten in the league this season.
* The match ball was sponsored by former player John Scott.
* Before kick off, the Killyleagh team formed a guard of honour for the trophy winning 2011 team as they were applauded onto the pitch.