Strangford FC Too Strong For Newcastle Swifts
The Newcastle and District Amateur Football League,
Venue: The Links, Strangford on Saturday 27th January 2024,
Final Score: Strangford FC 2 0 Newcastle Swifts.
Strangford FC were the first to make an early challenge to the Newcastle Swifts goal and this was followed by a flurry of further attempts to get an early goal in this Premier League clash writes Jim Masson.
Captain Conal Fitzsimmons fiured in much of the first half attacks and put the ball thgrough to Ronan Smyth who almost opened the scoring.
The Newcastle defence were doing their best and Zak Curran headed the ball out from his nets from an almost certain goal attempt from Strangford.
Then in a quick break, Strangford’s Ronan Smyth took a volley just off target of the right hand post.
It took Newcastle 12 minutes to make their first real effort to attack the Strangford goal when Callum Madine shot was on target but keeper Thomas Connery was on form and smothered the ball quickly.
Then Eoin Kelly crossed to Paul Donnelly and Ronan Smyth in the goal Newcastle goal area but the ensuing shot was wide.
Strangford captain was playing a pivotal role in feeding balls to the forward line and at times getting up front in the attacks. The pressure was on Newcastle and they only made occasional efforts to penetrate the Strangford half.
Newcastle did get a free kick within striking distance but it was held well by keeper Connery who by and large had an easy game.
On 23 minutes Smyth had an excellent chance to open the scoring when he broke clear and as keeper Wayne Lennon came sprinting out, he chipped the ball over his head but it was a fraction too high and went over the top bar.
Strangford should have been a couple of goals up by mid-session in the first half but failed to capitalise due to inaccurate finishing.
Despite the solid pressure from Strangford, the visitors were doing enough to keep the ball out of their nets.
On 30 minutes Newcastle’s Zak Curran made a break but his shot went just wide.
Then Smyth took a volley at the Newcastle goal and the shot bounced off a defender but keeper Lennon made a great reflex save denying the home side once again.
And in a rare Newcastle attack, Euan Fitzpatrick made a low strike but it reverbrated off the boot of Strangford right back Stephan McGrattan for a corner.
On 42 minutes Conal Fitzsimmons received a pass through the middle and he was unmarked and ran at the Newcastle goal but keeper Lennon read the move and came out just in time to block the effort.
You could feel Strangford’s frustration at being scoreless in the first half despite their several opportunities.
The second half started off with a series of attacks from Strangford putting the visitors under pressure, then after a couple of minutes, the dam burst.
Conal Fitzsimmons held a pass well under pressure and chipped up to the head of Thomas Fitzsimons who headed the ball into the middle of the Newcastle net on 48 minutes putting the home side a goal ahead.
Again Strangford pummelled the Newcastle Swifts half and eventually they gave way to the pressure when Ronan Smyth headed in from a long cross from Eoin Kelly to go 2 ahead.
Strangford definitely turned on the heat on Newcastle but when Newcastle quickly took a corner by McGrattan, Rory Reilly saw his short rise just over the bar, another opportunity wasted.
Smyth was having a great game throughout and in the closing section, he headed a corner just over the bar.
There were a few close scrapes as Strangford tried for another goal that was not to be… as the game came to its inevitable conclusion, Newcastle did have a spell when they tried to rally and pull a back a goal, but fundamentally, they were outplayed by a more experienced and maturer side.
Newcastle didn’t roll over when the going got tough and fair play to them for keeping the score down to only 2 goals of a deficit on this occasion.
Strangford sub James McVeigh just missed a goal when he had to stretch near the Strangford goal to get a connection with the ball and it bobbled past the goal for a goal kick.
This was a sporting game never-the-less and played fairly. There were no yellow or red cards issued.
In the last 15 minutes, Shane Teggart came on as sub for Strangford. He has been off for a spell with a muscular injury but is keen now to get back into the action in future matches.
Strangford FC: Thomas Connery GK, Stephan McGrattan, Conall Magee, Thomas Fitzsimons, Fionn McFall, Paul Donnelly, Rory Reilly, Owen Curran, Ronan Smyth, Conal Fitzsimmons (C), Eoin Kelly. Subs: Subs: Eoin Magee, Eoin Waterson, Shane Teggart.
Newcastle Swifts: Wayne Lennon GK, Curtis McAteer, McKenzie Valentine, Mark Young (C), Callum Madine, Zack Curran, Reece McAreavey, Timothy Sexton, Euan Fitzpatrick, Rory Connor, Stephen Young, Stephen Young. Subs: Chris Murphy, James McVeigh, Curtis Lowey.