CHORD CELTIC 1
CHORD Celtic began their assault on the PM Blinds Shutters Challenge Cup with a narrow win at home to Bay on Friday night.
Last season’s beaten finalists are very much hoping to go one step further this year, and while Bay are struggling in the Premier Division they are still playing at a higher level and were always going to pose a tough test.
Conditions were glorious at DIFE and both sides began at pace, but as the game wore on Chord began to get on top.
They went on to break the deadlock mid-way through the first half. Neil Donnelly picked out Niall Gates and the striker curled in a beautiful shot from outside the box.
Bay struggled to get through the Chord midfield of Donnelly, Cormac Reid and Nathan Llewellyn and Bay just couldn’t get close to the Chord goal.
As the half wore on the Drogheda side could have doubled their lead. Sevastian Beslic reacted quickest when the Bay keeper palmed a save and the midfielder rasped a shot just wide.
Indeed they should have gone 2-0 ahead when Gates sped down the left. He found Conor Parkinson in space inside the box, but the striker couldn’t wrap his foot around the ball and scuffed a shot wide.
While Chord dominated the first half, the second 45 minutes was very much a different story. The energy levels seemed to dip and Bay began to grow into the fixture.
The visitors thought they had levelled when a low goal-bound shot saw Dean Martin dive to his left and claw the ball clear.
The Chord back four really stood up to what was intense pressure from the Dundalk outfit.
But as Bay pressed forward they did leave themselves vulnerable to a counter and Chord nearly doubled their lead.
A long kick from Martin was well controlled by Parkinson and his deft lob sailed over the stranded Bay keeper but just didn’t dip under the crossbar.
Ciaran Logue was sprung from the bench to bolster the Chord defence and the sub put in some big tackles in the closing minutes. Bay won a series of corners and frees and they kept pumping balls into the box, but Martin remained composed and collected several high balls, showing some excellent fielding skills.
In injury time Chord had one final chance to put the game beyond doubt. Helder Mota latched onto a loose ball on the edge of the box and curled a shot just wide of the post.
But the full-time whistle shortly followed and Chord had booked their place in the next round.
Chord host Albion Rovers on Friday as they look to keep their 100% start in the league and cup going.
Chord CELTIC: Dean Martin, Leigh Kierans, Morgan Browne, Dean Haggins, Helder Mota, Nathan Llewellyn, Cormac Reid, Neil Donnelly, Niall Gates, Sevastian Beslic, Conor Parkinson Subs Used: Ross Reid, Ciaran Logue.