THE clash of the top two teams in the U14 Premier Division produced a fine encounter in difficult playing conditions, with the Sandy Lane pitch overgrown and in need of a cutting.
It was certainly energy sapping on a full-sized pitch for the young players, and it was Sean Spaight with his boundless energy, verve and skill on his introduction who drove Rock to a convincing win in the end as he orchestrated play from midfield in the second half.
The result means that the Seasiders are the new league leaders, with a two-point advantage over their nearest rivals.
A defiant Quay had wiped out a two-goal deficit after Rock struck twice in the opening quarter of an hour, but a brace in the space of a minute in the second half ultimately proved decisive.
Jack Greene and Sean McKenna were quite a handful for the Quay defence as they stretched and penetrated the visitors’ defence - that after the home side had an early let-off when a surging run by Kurt Browne opened a clear path into the heart of the Rock defence. However, Michael Dubrobnick shot into the side netting after being slipped through into the penalty box.
Soon after, Quay also had an escape when Greene won a tussle on the endline and crossed to the far post for Finn Nadine who just couldn’t get a strong enough connection with his head and the ball dropped beyond the upright.
Then Owen Sweeney put Rock ahead when McKenna pulled the ball back for his teammate to unleash a powerful drive from inside the 18-yard line that was deflected past goalkeeper Aaron Gartland.
The powerful Noah Lukaki, who stamped his mark on the game with his lung-bursting runs out of defence into the opposition half, made a telling intervention, with his strength and pace allowing him to prevent what looked a certain goal with a great recovery run and tackle inside his penalty box.
This paved the way for Greene to double Rock’s advantage. Goalkeeper Gartland made a great save with his outstretched foot to deny McKenna, but Greene followed up to firmly put away the rebound.
A few minutes later Quay fforced their way right back into the game when Donnacha Reidy won a penalty kick and Calum Woods curled the kick low inside the bottom corner.
Maciek Dobros, with an acrobatic attempt from a Greene cross, nearly restored Rock’s two-goal cushion, the ball flying narrowly wide of the near post just after the break. Greene then strayed offside when freed in front of the Quay goal as another good chance was wasted.
Instead Quay scored next to equalise, but it was an unfortunate blunder by the otherwise sound Rock goalkeeper Owen McGahon that allowed Rian McDonnell’s innocuous shot to squirm through his hands and across the goal-line.
However, Spaight was now in full cry, marauding all over the pitch, and he was at the hub of all Rock’s most threatening attacks.
A good move by Rock tempted Gartland out of his 18-yard box and he was beaten in a chase for possession by Greene who composed himself to tuck the ball into the gaping net, with the Quay defence in disarray.
A shaken Quay hadn’t time to recover when McKenna’s snap shot from the edge of the 18-yard line flew into the top corner of the net to re-establish their two-goal lead.
McKenna sealed the points for the home side when he won a tussle just inside the Quay half on the right, raced into the penalty box and scored from a tight angle in off the near post with a few minutes remaining.
Rock: Owen McGahon, Conor Ward, Noah Lukaki, Oran McShane, Mal Madine, Ruari Carpenter, Sean McKenna, Max Carroll, Finn Madine, Jack Greene, Owen Sweeney, Sean Spaight, Maciek Dobros, Cormac Greene, Oran Woods.
Quay: Aaron Gartland, Niamh Norton, Calum Woods, Finn McEneaney, Donnacha Reidy, Rian McDonnell, Ross Browne, Michael Dubrobnick, Kurt Browne, Niall Moyland, Shane Campbell, McKenzie Crowley, Cian Mulligan, Joshua Conlon, Ryan Gore, Cillian McDonnell.