North End had to work to break down Forth
NORTH END UNITED 2
Dempsey, Beary FORTH CELTIC 0
IT WILL be all about tight margins come the end, so it was crucially important for home side North End United to take all three points from this Premier Division clash with lowly Forth Celtic at Belvedere on Sunday morning last.
Few would have thought that North End would have struggled so much to secure the points. For a period, particularly in the second-half, it looked as if Forth Celtic - already battling against relegation - would upset their high-flying rivals, but their failure to put away a couple of decent chances prevented them from causing what would have been a huge upset.
North End, with so many games in hand on leaders Shamrock Rovers, started with a flourish as they stormed all over their opponents. They practically owned the ball through the opening passages of play so it was no real surprise when they took the lead as early as the fifth minute. Clinical passing in their approach saw the ball eventually reach Kyle Dempsey who scored superbly from just inside the area. Leading 1-0 at such an early stage, it appeared as if we could have a rout on our hands.
But credit to Forth Celtic. Realising the significance of the game and their desire for points, they battened down the hatches as they went on to defend superbly while by the same token looking quite dangerous with some excellent counter-attacks.
Both Anthony Hayes and Ciarán Redmond created half chances only to be denied by recovering defenders while, at the opposite end, North End looked like they were about to add to that early goal. However, Andy Moore failed to conrol an Adam Beary cross, and with it a real goal chance went abegging.
Forth Celtic quickly moved the ball long out of defence, leaving Brian Dunne in a one-on-one situation with defender Gareth McCurtain, but as he tried to cut into the area from the right he lost his footing at a crucial moment. A quick strike would surely have brought the equalising goal, but as it turned out North End went in with a 1-0 interval lead.
North End were at their attacking best when wind assisted in the second-half as they stretched the visitors' back four. But credit to both William Murphy and Mark Doyle who stood firm in the face of that early second-half onslaught, with the home side forcing six corner kicks through the opening 15 minutes on the resumption.
Forth Celtic still looked a force during the following 15 minutes, with William Murphy powering in a great shot after picking up a headed clearance on the edge of the area, but 'keeper Cormac O'Brien proved equal to the task. Minutes later O'Brien had to be at his best once again as he saved a fine Ciarán Redmond freekick from 25 metres.
As Forth Celtic continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, they were hit by an excellent counter-attack, leaving Adam Beary to power home a superb 35-metre shot that flew high into the top right-hand corner of the net, giving North End a rather flattering 2-0 victory.