Newtown march on
Published 20/02/2013 | 05:44
Fairwood Celtic briefly threatened to ignore the script before being overpowered by Newtown United in their Wicklow Cup clash on Sunday.
It only took John Heffernan four minutes to grab the first of what would go on to be four goals and it looked like the Magpies could start making preparations for the fourth round of the Wicklow Cup already.
But the visitors weren't perturbed by the early set-back. It spurred them on and after a dominant spell they deservedly levelled it up courtesy of Anthony Byrne.
Any dreams of a giant-killing that the Division 3 title contenders had didn't last long though as Heffernan restored order for the Premier Division side within four minutes.
Dessie Waters then made Celtic's task more difficult when he made it 3-1 and on the stroke of half time Heffernan completed his hat-trick and the contest was all but over with another half still to play.
In the second period United were in no rush to force the issue and despite valiant efforts, there was to be no fairytale revival for Celtic in a second half that saw them lose a man to a red card and ship another goal, this time from the spot.
Fairwood Celtic was in danger of developing a severe case of itchy feet prior to Sunday's match. It had been over a month since they'd previously tasted action before taking on Newtown on Sunday, so perhaps that ring rustiness was the cause of conceding so early.
Slack marking saw Heffernan played in behind, goalkeeper Gerry Rawson looked to have foiled the midfielder but when the ball broke back for Heffernan there was no doubting what the outcome would be.
Newtown tasted blood and went for the kill as they toyed with their opponents for the following ten minutes but suddenly the Coolboy club awoke from their slumber.
After some neat play down the left, Celtic's John Blake was presented with a golden opportunity but he fluffed his chance and his toe-poke trickled into Richard Franey's waiting arms.
Referee Dave Jameson then played a good advantage as he ignored Barry Davis' handball to allow Blake to whip in to PJ O'Keefe but the striker's headed effort was coolly caught by Franey.
O'Keefe then created a chance out of nothing on 20 minutes. His great work-rate saw him hustle his man off the ball and he had the wherewithal to pick out Paul O'Keefe but the winger shot over after a poor first touch.
All this pressure was causing a few worries for Newtown and those worries were fully justified when Celtic hit back in the 25 th minute. Paul O'Keefe's long throw was nodded on and after nobody took command of the situation, Celtic centre half galloped to the edge of the box before slamming home low into the corner of the net.
Four minutes later it was 2-1 though. A free kick was sent in from the left, Dean Odlum met it with his right foot and Heffernan used his head to deflect it past Rawson from eight yards.
Heffernan then combined with Jamie McDonald and Dessie Waters as McDonald provided the pass and Waters provided the finish to make it 3-1.
A halftime scoreline of 3-1 would not have been a complete disaster for the away side but Heffernan wanted to inflict more damage on them and did so as he glanced home Barry Davis' left-wing cross in the 45th minute.
Seven minutes after the interval Heffernan was felled in the penalty area and the penalty was awarded. Heffernan stepped up and, despite Rawson getting a hand to the 12-yarder, he found the back of the net for the fourth time that morning.
Sunday's defeat means Fairwood Celtic can now fully concentrate on their battle for the Division 3 crown but they'll have to plan without John Blake for the time being after he received a red card on Sunday.
Blake disagreed with a decision from Jameson and was booked for his x-rated dissent. But after seeing the yellow card, Blake was further enraged and a second volley of abuse saw him sent for an early bath.
Top Form: John Heffernan (Newtown United): Skinned more men than Hannibal on Sunday. The four goal haul wasn't bad either.