Saturday 21st January
Downpatrick Youth Football League Under-15’s
Newcastle FC 2 Downpatrick FC 5
From the off, it was clear Newcastle were going to put up a fight with a strategy of blanket defence and targeting key players. The first 15 minutes was scrappy with the midfield of Jack Fitzsimons, Ruiari Murphy, Ethan Breen and Luke Shields clocking up the mileage in attack and counter attack.
The midfielders were making cool passes, but the off side trap continuously beat strikers Ethan Artt and Andrew McClean. The defensive line of Collie Jones, Liam Toner, Conail Gardner and Naoise O’Hagan were already finding the Newcastle attacking line difficult to handle but still managed to hold their own.
On 16 minutes, a corner to Newcastle was duly finished, 1-0 Newcastle. Immediately after the restart, Jack Fitzsimons made a solo run, Artt and McClean drawing of the other defenders to allow Fitzsimons to make it 1-1. Changes brought in Rian McShane and the towering figure of new defender, Brian Kennedy, to try and take this game away from Newcastle.
The match was heating up and bookings followed leading to a free kick to Newcastle on 33 minutes and indecision in the Downpatrick defence meant that the home side made it 2-1. Half Time: Newcastle FC 2 v Downpatrick FC 1 There was no way the boys were going to sit back and take this. The second half began with Fitzsimons taking a neat free kick but for it to be disallowed, it being indirect. Downpatrick were attacking in numbers and with gusto and on 42 minutes, Artt curved in a challenging ball from the corner for McClean to clean up the goal keepers fumble to make it 2 – 2.
Not long after, another corner was duly delivered accurately by Artt and this time Fitzsimons was there to make it 3-2. Newcastle were struggling and a penalty was awarded after McClean was brought down in the box after a solo break. Luke Shields stepped up and confidently knocked in Downpatrick’s fourth on 58mins to make it 4-2.
Not to be out done, central defender Gardner made a solo break from centre mid, cleared a number of challenges with neat foot work, coupled with brute strength and finished the match with a brilliant solo effort strike on 62mins. An entertaining, physical match that proved that attacking in numbers, utilising the width of the pitch would guarantee rewards.