Ajax aided by strong finish
IT WAS the perfect finish for Ajax Athletic who continued their remarkable improvement with two cracking late goals enabling them to take all three points at the expense of struggling Curracloe United in this entertaining Premier Division clash at Curracloe on Sunday last.
The strong wind and heavy rain militated against quality football, but credit to both sides for the fare served up as the game produced six excellent goals to go along with an abundance of goalmouth incident, before Ajax Athletic stormed home in the end, having earlier surrendered a two-goal lead.
Ajax Athletic have scotched any suggestions that they will struggle in the top flight on their return having spent a season down in Division 1. But with players like Jason and Anto Russell back in the fold, coupled with the excellent Johnny Flynn-O'Connor, Timmy Bolger and James Buckley, they have progressed into a side that will cause many surprises before the end of the campaign.
Curracloe's lack of consistency is haunting their efforts to take points which would keep them out of the relegation struggle. This lack of consistency was once again evident. Having conceded two first-half goals, they played some excellent football through the third quarter to haul themselves back level, but a lack of concentration at the back saw them concede two late goals, leaving them empty-handed once again.
Both sides played quality attacking football through the opening exchanges with Stephen Cash and Paddy Doyle very prominent for the home side, but with Anto Russell beginning to dominate in central midfield, the Cathedral town team gradually began to take control.
After 20 minutes an excellent run took Russell into the area where he was brought down, leaving Timmy Bolger to neatly tuck away the penalty. Every player was giving their all in the testing conditions, but the pitch was excellent despite the heavy rain. The home side's Liam Donnelly pulled an effort just the wrong side of the right-hand post, coming closest to equalising.
After 25 minutes, Ajax Athletic were back attacking but their second goal was a real bizarre effort. The home 'keeper, Declan Murphy, played a free kick straight to the unmarked Seán Farnan who was left with the simple task of stroking the ball into an empty net, making it 2-0 at the interval.
Curracloe's comeback was instigated within ten minutes of the re-start when Darren Doyle was brought down inside the area, leaving Liam Donnelly to goal the resulting penalty. There was not much between the sides, with Curracloe growing in belief, particularly after a low Darragh Connor free kick on 60 minutes beat 'keeper Damien Tobin to make it 2-2.
Ajax winger Willie Hudson, who had been threatening all through, broke down the right wing and cut inside before firing in a low shot from an acute angle that took a deflection along the way to end in the corner of the net, restoring his side's lead.
Nine minutes from the end a mix-up in the home defence saw a long ball from Jason Russell elude everyone, finishing in the top right-hand corner of the net and securing all three points.