Firhouse rally leaves Town reeling
SOCCER LEINSTER SENIOR LEAGUE DIVISION 1
A POWERFUL second-half performance from league leaders Firhouse Clover saw the Dublin side depart Bridgewater Centre Park on Friday night last with all three points as Arklow Town suffered their first defeat of the season.
Town, having started the season brightly, faced the early pacesetters in this Leinster Senior League Division 1 clash minus the presence of five first team regulars, all sidelined with injuries.
The visitors started brightly, boosted by two wins from their two previous outings, pushing the ball across the park as they probed the Arklow defence for an opening.
Town were on the back foot from the off though the defence was ably marshalled by Graham Lawlor, and Kevin Farrell coming into the side for the absent William Tyrrell. Slightly against the run of play the home side carved out a move that led to the game’s opening goal.
A sweeping move up the Town’s left flank resulted in winger Chris Burgess driving a shot across the Firhouse penalty box and the ever lively John Fennell was perfectly placed to get his head to the ball and direct home.
Willie Doyle went close to doubling Arklow’s lead with a right foot shot that glanced off the Firhouse goalpost. With half-time looming Stephen Hurley tested the ‘keeper from distance with a drilled effort that fizzed just inches over the bar. The Dublin side made a number of tactical switches at the start of the second-half but still Town maintained the upper hand, searching for a second goal.
However, just on the hour mark, Town were reduced to ten men and Firhouse seized the opportunity to level with a floating ball in from the left wing that deceived all and ended up dipping inside the top right hand corner of Town’s keeper Craig Britton’s net.
Both sides pushed for a winner, and with Daragh Murray off injured and John Fennell struggling with a hand injury, Town’s best efforts came from set pieces. With less than ten minutes remaining, Town were well placed, a free-kick award- ed level with the Firhouse penalty area.
An in-swinging cross from Stephen Hurley was cleared and Firhouse broke upfield on a counterattack, a sweeping move up their right flank. With the Town defence stretched, a Firhouse head was first to the ball as a cross reached the near post, and he steered home what proved to be the winning goal, much to the delight of the Firhouse bench and support.
Arklow Town: Craig Britton, Ian O’Reilly, John McElwee, Graham Lawlor, Kevin Farrell, James Dixon, John Fennell, Stephen Hurley, Willie Doyle, Daragh Murray, Chris Burgess. Subs. - Kenny Keogh (for Murray), Eamonn Doyle, Gearoid Redmond, Billy Manley.
John Fennell, who opened the scoring for Arklow Town in their 21 home defeat against Firhouse Clover.