Tuesday 23 July 2019

Table-toppers squeeze through banana skin tie

Soccer, North East Football League, Tully Bookmakers Cup: Torro United 1 Boyne Harps 2

PJ Murray

It certainly wasn't easy, but Boyne Harps booked their place in the second round of the Tully Bookmaker Challenge Cup on Thursday night with a 2-1 win away to Torro United.

That the Torro keeper was man of the match by a country mile gives an indication as to how the game went.

Harps manager Wayne Wright opted to make seven changes from the side who beat Duleek 2-0 the week previously.

The rain began to pour 30 minutes before kick-off and didn't stop until the final whistle.

Making his debut, new signing Ian Devine hit the post in the first five minutes when he cut in from the left and rifled a shot goalwards which bounced off the upright to safety.

Then on 15 minutes James Burke broke down the left and pulled a pass back to Devine who managed to scoop the ball from behind and his effort found the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.

Ryan Connor then tried his luck from 20 yards, only to be denied in what was the first of a series of good saves made by the Torro keeper.

It was all one-way traffic at this stage and Martin Kelly broke through, but as he was about to shoot he lost his footing and the ball rolled straight at the goalkeeper.

As the game wore on conditions worsened and players were struggling to stay on their feet.

Torro were pumping long balls and a relatively new Harps defence, despite one or two mistakes, managed to deal with the route one tactic.

The visitors took their one-goal lead into the break.

Devine hit the post in an almost identical move to his first shot of the game, early in the second half. Connor broke from midfield and a long-range effort was just flicked over the crossbar.

Luck McDonnell rose highest to meet a Kelly corner, but from point-blank range the Torro goalkeeper made a fantastic reaction save.

Then, very much against the run of play, Torro drew level. A long ball over the top saw their striker go through before tumbling in the box, not before getting a shot away.

That was saved by Ronan Brown, but the referee awarded the spot kick despite advantage being played.

Brown was left with no chance from a well-placed penalty.

Harps immediately made some changes to their attack as they chased a winner with 20 minutes to go.

Bernard Osborne sent a free into the box and Manny Smith powered a header into the ground, and despite an awkward bounce the keeper again saved.

Devine then struck the crossbar and Kelly latched onto the rebound but put it wide.

Harps' winner eventually came when Osborne whipped in a corner and the Torro defence cleared the ball back to the midfielder. He hit a low ball back into the mixer and Devine gained possession at the back post to tee up Luke McDonnell who smashed home the winner, much to Boyne Harps' relief.

Boyne Harps: Ronan Brown; James Traynor, Luke McDonnell, Daryl McDonagh, Shane Kierans (Bernard Osbourne); James Burke (Graham Reynolds), Kyle Molloy (Danny Coyle), Darren McCann (Manny Smith), Ryan Connor, Martin Kelly (Cormac McGroggan), Ian Devine.

Drogheda Independent