Friday 23 March 2018

Burgess bags winning goal

Paul Byrne

Chris Burgess' first-half goal proved crucial as Portmarnock picked up three valuable points in their quest for promotion on Sunday morning.

In what is shaping up to be a thrilling finale to the Senior 1 Sunday league, Portmarnock moved back up to second place with this hard-fought victory against relegation-threatened Arklow Town.

Portmarnock were given a boost during the week following league leaders Newbridge's shock 3-1 home defeat to Dunboyne which opened the door for Willie O'Leary's men to go up as possible champions.

Newbridge, Portmarnock, Leixlip Town and Dublin Bus are all fighting for the three promotion spots on offer and it is incredibly close as the season comes to the conclusion, with one of those four facing heartache in the coming weeks.

Willie O'Leary's side knew they needed to win this game to keep the pressure on their rivals. Portmarnock started strongly and almost took the lead after just five minutes when Graham Rusk found himself in space inside the Arklow Town penalty area. However, his well struck shot was well saved by the visiting goalkeeper.

Portmarnock continued to dominate the early exchanges and that dominance eventually yielded the all-important goal in the 25th minute thanks to the ever-reliable Chris Burgess. Not much appeared to be on when the ball arrived at Burgess's feet, but in the blink of an eye he swivelled and powered home a stinging half volley which left the Arklow keeper with no chance.

Portmarnock continued to pile on the pressure late in the half and Burgess almost scored his second just before the break. However, his shot was just too high and shortly afterwards the referee blew his whistle to signal the end of the half.

Portmarnock continued to dominate in the second half, but they were not creating many clear-cut chances as Arklow elected to sit back and try and catch the home side on the break.

Graham Rusk had a glorious chance to seal the game for the hosts, but his shot from close range was well saved once again by the visiting goalkeeper.

For all Portmarnock's possession the game was always still on a knife-edge, with Arklow knowing they needed to score just a single goal to pick up a valuable point. And with seconds remaining they almost completed the ultimate smash and grab as they hit the crossbar to almost snatch a draw.

Portmarnock ultimately did enough to climb back into second place but they will be mightily relieved given how close they came to conceding an equaliser.

After the game Portmarnock manager Willie O'Leary looked ahead to tomorrow evening's crucial game against third-placed Leixlip Town.

'They have the same points as us, so obviously it's a big game. If we can win our final two matches we will get promoted and that's what we are concentrating on. We were a bit scrappy today, but you're going to get that at this time of the season and we're just happy to come away with all three points," noted Willie.

Fingal Independent