Steel and Sons 3rd Round
Killyleagh YC 2 Crewe Utd 4
Report by Chris Hagan.
There will certainly be no white Christmas for Killyleagh this year as their dream of a Steel and Sons Cup run was halted at The Showgrounds on Saturday.
The third round tie more than lived up to its pre-match billing as the tie of the round, with a brilliant first half, goal chances galore and a crazy finish which saw three goals in added time before the Eamon McCarthy-managed favourites triumphed.
It was the visitors who made an impressive start with YC keeper Aaron Carberry producing a fine save to cut out Conal Burns’ super cross and then minutes later he did even better to fingertip away Ciaran Murphy’s low effort.
Killyleagh were left feeling hard done by when the referee ruled out Adam Neale’s super finish after 10 minutes. Jack Sharvin and B J McMenamin combined with a stunning move that sliced the Crewe defence open and although Neale found the net, the referee ruled that he had been marginally offside when he stroked past Dean Smyth in the Crewe goal.
Within five minutes Killyleagh had another big chance. Keegan Rice played in Stevie Kennedy and he rounded the keeper only to find himself fighting the angle to produce a finish which rocketed inches over the open goal.
Crewe though started to reimpose themselves and Burns’ free kick ricocheted off the wall to safety after 19 minutes.
The crowd were getting value for their money, with both teams evenly matched. But it was the visitors who opening the scoring in the 33rd minute. Daniel Smith picked out Steven Brown from a brilliantly worked throw in and he raced in to slam the ball past Carberry for a super opener.
Killyleagh hit back immediately and Sharvin and McMenamin combined for Neale. He did all the hard work to control the ball and evade his marker but shot over. Then McMenamin had a great chance from Jack Sharvin’s cross.
If the opening goal was good, Killyleagh’s equaliser in the 39th minute was worth the entrance money alone. Stevie Kennedy struck an absolute wonder goal from all of 20 yards to make it 1-1, with Smyth rooted to the spot.
Crewe were rocking and Killyleagh spurned another two great chances with Neale out of luck as he did well to get on the end of McMenamin’s teasing cross and then Smyth made a fine save to deny Jack Sharvin, before Darren McConnell went close. Killyleagh did not want the half-time whistle to sound but unfortunately they went in at the break, still level.
Another of the game’s turning points came with United’s introduction at the start of the second half of ex-Cliftonville midfielder Conor Downey. Killyleagh failed to heed one early warning before he started and finished a super second goal for Crewe.
Although KIllyleagh tried for an instant reply, with Dean Youle cutting out Kennedy’s brilliant cross, it was the visitors through Downey who controlled the tempo of the game, as the home side struggled to get any sort of toehold in the second half.
It took the YC until the 67th minute before they produced a serious goal threat with McMenamin shooting over from a free.
But Paul Sharvin’s YC were still very much in it and in a 15 minute spell they started to push Crewe back, with a well worked free being cleared by Kevin McLoughlin. Then Neale’s spectacular bicycle kick from Sharvin’s cross lacked the pace needed to beat Smyth, while Jon Joe Sharvin did well with a header.
They suffered a setback when Jamie Sharvin, who had been playing as a makeshift sweeper due to the absence of the concussed Niall Walsh, was carried off with a serious knee injury. Both sides continued to attack, with Sharvin pushing his central defender Macaulay Foster forward to aid the attack, and it took good blocks at either end by Crewe’s McLaughlin and YC substitute Jonny Murray to leave the score unchanged.
Then came a crazy ending to the game with three goals in added time. Killyleagh were playing with five in attack and almost inevitably they were caught short at the back as Crewe made it 3-1 when a shot slipped under Carberry in the 91st minute.
A two goal defeat seemed rough justice on Killyleagh and so it seemed the scoreline was given a more realistic look in the 94th minute when Jack Sharvin was felled in the box and McMenamin slammed the penalty home.
But Crewe were determined to have the last word and in the 95th minute Burns made it three goals in the last four minutes to leave the final score at 2-4.
Crewe’s reward is a last 16 clash with Ballynahinch Olympic while Killyleagh switch to the Border Cup this weekend with a tricky trip to Aquinas.