Harps still perfect after ninth victory
North East Football League, Premier Division: Duleek 0 Boyne Harps 2
Boyne Harps eked out another hard-fought win against a dogged, under-strength Duleek side on Friday night to remain top of the NEFL Premier Division.
With Trim Celtic's fixture at home to Newfoundwell on Sunday morning being called off, Wayne Wright's team stretched their lead to six points with two games more played.
Duleek were looking to avenge a one-goal defeat earlier in the season which saw Harps snatch all three points six minutes into injury time.
The first half was very much a tit for tat affair, with Harps edging it on clear-cut chances but most importantly on the scoresheet also.
The visitors took the lead on 15 minutes from a Kevin Walsh solo effort. The midfielder received the ball out wide and raced down the wing before rounding the full-back and teasing a low cross into the box which was inadvertently turned in by a Duleek defender.
Five minutes later Rob Cashman was played through by Danny Coyle and the striker rifled a shot goalwards, but Alan Sweeney pulled off a fantastic diving save to keep just the one goal between the teams.
Barry Kavanagh proved to be a real thorn in the Harps defence and broke the cover several times, but Ronan Brown proved more than a match for the Duleek striker.
Duleek were pushing for an equaliser, but Paddy O'Boyle and Daryl McDonagh were holding the line well at the back for the visitors.
Pete Brennan made a tactical change in formation mid-way through the first half to plug the gaps which Harps were exploiting.
Darren McCann picked out Stephen Carter at the back post and the midfielder took a touch, but Sweeney was out quick to close down the angle and make a save.
Killian Brennan drilled a free just wide of the post as the half drew to a close.
Duleek were unlucky not to draw level when Harps failed to deal with a corner, but O'Boyle blocked the shot on the line. O'Boyle then made a fantastic challenge from behind as the defender hooked his leg around the Duleek attacker in what was potentially a goal-saving challenge.
Harps took more control of the game in the second half and Cashman made it 2-0 on the hour mark. A long ball through to the striker saw him take a touch round the defender and beat Sweeney from the edge of the box.
It was one-way traffic really at this stage. Stephen Carter was denied by Sweeney from six yards out and Cashman had a shot from a similar position to the one from which he scored - however this time he hit the post. Martin Kelly reacted quickest to the rebound, but Sweeney made the save once more.
Brennan headed over from a corner and as Wright emptied the bench Duleek never looked like getting back into it.
Harps are in cup action next as they travel to Torro United on Thursday night.
Duleek have a week off as their Tully Bookmakers Challenge Cup clash with Newfoundwell has been postponed, with the Drogheda side still struggling to put together a squad.