Killyleagh Inches Closer To Promotion

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Premier League Within Reach For Killyleagh

The NAFL.

League Division 1a.

Killyleagh 1 Orangfield 1

A thunder strike from Jamie Sharvin inched Killyleagh closer to promotion from the Amateur League’s Division 1A writes Chris Hagan.

The East Belfast side probably needed to win this game but they are still in the running for promotion alongside the Killyleagh YC if they can win all their games in hand.

Killyleagh’s Darren McConnell breaks up an Orangefield attack.

Killyleagh were missing their two goal machines on Saturday, Adam Neale and Jack Sharvin, who between them have bagged 57 goals this season, and they suffered another setback when another of their strikers BJ McMenamin was also forced out shortly before kick off. And the upheaval seemed to show early on as Orangefield started strongest and took the game to the YC.

Luke Wilson shot over for the visitors after six minutes before the lively Owen Peden burst through and fired straight at Adam Carberry.

Killyleagh kept up the pressure against Orangefield at the end of the match looking for a winning goal.

Jamie Sharvin, leading the strike force with his first game in nine weeks, produced Killyleagh’s first effort after good work from Niall Walsh. The home side seemed content to hit on the counter-attack at this stage and Lee Morrison produced an opening for Stevie Kennedy.

Gradually Killyleagh started to impose themselves and with Darren McConnell leading the midfield battle, Kennedy was unlucky not to reach the high ball before Orangefield keeper Adam McCormick.

Just before the half hour mark, chances were exchanged at both ends with Jamie Sharvin shooting over and Wilson firing wide. But Killyleagh got the goal they deserved, and what a goal it was after 30 minutes. Jamie Sharvin produced a thunder strike from just inside the box to make it 1-0.

Killyleagh forward Stephen Kennedy challenges Orangefield defender Jonathon Doey.

Soon afterwards Jon Joe Sharvin made a super clearing tackle to deny Woods who was ready to pounce. Then Killyleagh produced the move of the match with some super cross field passes and they were unlucky when the visitors got a block on Keegan Rice’s shot, sending it into the side-netting.

Killyleagh suffered another enormous blow before the half-time whistle when talisman McConnell was on the end of a late tackle and had to be carried off.

The injury seemed to disrupt Killyleagh’s rhythm and shape, and in the opening 20 minutes of the second half they needed immense performances at the back from man of the match Johnny Cheevers, Walsh and Sharvin to keep Orangefield at bay.

It took a large slice of luck, though, to get the equaliser. JJ Sharvin’s clearance bounced off the back of an Orangefield player straight into the path of unmarked substitute Upton who arrowed a perfect cross for Kyle Woods to score a brilliant diving header in the 67th minute. The build up may have had a slice of luck but the finish was superb.

Paul Sharvin’s YC refused to buckle, however, and they produced an instant response with Stevie Kennedy’s snap shot and then a free from Jamie Sharvin bounced off the wall for a corner.

Then came late drama and controversy. Remarkably there were three goal-line clearances from corners to deny Killyleagh as Cheevers and his defensive partners joined the attack — firstly in the 85th minute when a defender cleared off the line from Walsh after he got on the end of Morrison’s corner, then in added time goal-line blocks to deny Rice and JJ Sharvin.

In between, in the 87th minute, there was controversy which left Killyleagh feeling hard done by. A sensational strike from Stevie Kennedy from 20 yards bounced off the crossbar and onto the line, in the style of Geoff Hurst. Killyleagh players quickly surrounded the referee claiming it had crossed the line but play was waved on. It was close to an impossible call for the ref and depending on which side of the ground spectators were on, many claimed it had gone in while others suggested the whole ball had not crossed the line.

The point moves Killyleagh onto 53 points with two games left to play — a tally that would have guaranteed promotion in any one of the last eight years.

It sets it up nicely for this Saturday’s visit to The Showgrounds by the other side who can catch Killyleagh —  title favourites Larne Tech- who are unbeaten in the league this season.

Killyleagh YC: Aaron Carberry, Jonathan Cheevers, Jonathan Sharvin, Darren McConnell, Niall Walsh, Lee Morrison, Keegan Rice, Jamie Sharvin (c), Kieran Sullivan, Ryan Blaney, Stephen Kennedy. Subs: Barry Treacy, Jordan Kennedy,

Orangefield OB: Adam McCormick, Dean Blair, Nathan Coulter, Richard Hamilton, Jonathon Doey, Kristopher Gaw, Luke Wilson, Scott Brannigan, William Gracey, Kyle Woods, Owen Peden. Subs: Glen Upton, Zak Dick, George Moore.

Killyleagh struggled in the early stages of the game against Orangefield but had a good second half.