Newtown United A and Arklow Town play out a thrilling draw in the Premier Division
Newtown and Arklow share the spoils in thriller
A SPIRITED second half performance from Arklow Town saw the reigning Premier Division champions overcome a two goal deficit to claim a point in a pulsating top of the table clash on Sunday.
NEWTOWN UNITED A 3 (Mooney 10; Heffernan 40; D Odlum 43)
ARKLOW TOWN 3 (G Doyle 13; Redmond 56; Kavanagh 87)
Having already come from 1-0 behind, the Bridgewater Centre Park were then hit with a double whammy as Newtown United notched twice in a three-minute spell just before the half time break.
The Arklow side weren't deterred though and they halved the difference on 56 minutes before snatching a point with a dramatic late goal that brought the curtain down on what was occasionally a highly-charged affair.
Newtown United and Arklow Town, along with Fairwood Celtic of Division 3, are the only senior sides left in the county that are yet to suffer defeat this season. The visitor's record was thrown into doubt after ten minutes of action at the Matt Kelly Memorial Grounds as the Magpies took the lead. Town goalkeeper Keith Manley was adjudged to have carried the ball out of his penalty area as he attempted a clearance by referee Mick 'Mousie' Kennedy. It appeared Manley was about to go unpunished when Dessie Waters drove the free kick straight into the wall but unfortunately for the shot-stopper, the ball fell to Shane Mooney and he thrashed it home from 25 yards.
That lead only lasted three minutes though. The troublesome Willy Kavanagh spun into space and slipped a pass through for Gavin Doyle. His first touch allowed him to explode past his man and his second touch was equally explosive as he blasted a shot into the back of the net via the inside of Richard Franey's near post.
It was Newtown's turn to threaten on 23 minutes when Dean Odlum threaded a ball through for Mark Fitzsimons but just as the winger looked poised to let rip, Arklow's Philip Gleeson slid in superbly to save the day and keep the scores level.
Odlum's strike partner Dessie Waters then almost summoned a goal out of nowhere. He collected the ball inside the centre circle amongst a crowd of opposition players but the striker managed to negotiate his way out of them all before charging past another defender and suddenly the visitors were in trouble. Waters crossed to Fitzsimons and, once again, he was denied by some last-gasp defending, with Peter Walker performing the heroics on this occasion.
There were no defenders on hand to bail Arklow Town out in the 40th or 43rd minutes though. For United's second goal, Fitzsimons crossed from the left and John Heffernan's left-footed connection was just strong enough for the ball to beat Manley.
And then for the third, Waters opted for a deep delivery from his corner kick and the ball found Odlum who guided the ball into the far corner with his forehead.
Arklow Town made two changes as they looked for a route back into the match in the second period but they were nearly killed off by Waters just before the hour mark.
A dinked pass released the attacker and he chipped his effort over the outrushing Manley but his shot failed to hit the target.
All was not lost for the title holders though and Waters may have began to rue that missed chance when Town pulled a goal back in the 62nd minute. And it was a goal that was almost identical to Newtown's third but on this occasion it was Willy Kavanagh with the delivery and midfielder Gearoid Redmond who popped up to powerfully head home. Game on, again.
With tensions running high - never more so than after Gavin Doyle went crashing to the turf in the penalty area only to be ignored by the referee, who subsequently booked two Town players for dissent - and when a tame fracas broke out in the 76th minute it was no surprise.
The visitors didn't allow those off the ball incidents to distract them from their mission though and it was mission accomplished for the Town with three minutes to spare when Philip Gleeson, operating as an emergency striker, hooked the ball back into the danger zone for Kavanagh to nod home, despite the best efforts of Martin Melia.
Top Form: Gearoid Redmond (Arklow Town): Allaction performance from the midfielder.