Town torment Celtic
First-half goals earn the three points for Arklow outfit
ARKLOW TOWN SHAMROCK CELTIC 3 1
A VERY capable and accomplished Arklow Town side put a battling Shamrock Celtic to the sword at Bridgewater Centre Park on Friday night last in an entertaining yet at times frustrating Division 3 battle.
The visitors never really found any flow or rhythm in this game, and they will be very disappointed with their overall performance on a fairly ugly night to be away from the sitting room fire.
All the scoring was done in the opening half. Arklow Town had their three-goal tally posted by the 40th minute thanks to a first half of very impressive football that saw them looking for the jugular at every opportunity.
Shamrock Celtic rarely troubled the goal of Willie Horsman in that opening half, but one error from the Arklow netminder saw a clearance drove in the direction of the very handy Glen McCarthy who rifled over a lob off his left boot that sailed majestically into the top corner of Horseman’s net to give the visitors a tiny glimpse of hope at the end of a disappointing opening half.
An early clash of heads between Shamrock Celtic’s Gary Doyle and Arklow Town’s Craig Ledwith left us with a worrying few minutes as both men received attention on the ground.
It was a purely accidental collision and thankfully both were good to go after a few moments although Ledwith wouldn’t reappear after the first half.
There was 18 minutes on the clock when Craig Ledwith would fire home the opening goal. A lovely through ball found the striker and he slotted home sweetly past Mikael Hodgkinson in the Shamrock Celtic goal.
Celtic tried hard to break down the resolute defence of Shane Donohue, Craig Snell, Donal O’Keeffe and Edward Dunne but they lacked a real clinical edge.
Town on the other hand were tormenting the Shamrock Celtic defence with alarming regularity. Conor Dodd’s free had Mikael Hodgkinson panicking but the strike sailed inches above the crossbar.
Craig Ledwith saw his weak effort dealt with by Hodgkinson and an Edward Dunne corner was sent wide by Ledwith at the near post in a close call for the Shamrock Celtic defence.
The busy Scott Meaney fired in a cross to an unoccupied Arklow Town box in what was Celtic’s first real assault on the home side’s defence but Willie Horsman had no trouble in gathering.
A pair of wides followed – the first from Paul Kelty for Town, the second for Celtic’s Kevin Coady in the 27th minute as the game started to flow better.
Willie Horsman gathered an- other Scott Meaney ball before a Ledwith ball at the other end found a colleague in an offside position.
On we went until the 35th minute with Town still leading by a goal to nil.
The home side attacked through the centre and a beautiful flick pass from Paul Kelty put Conor Dodd through and he made no mistake past Hodgkinson.
It was exactly what the Town team deserved having shown the greater industry and potential in those opening 35 minutes.
Shamrock Celtic won a free far out, but the lofted ball drifted harmlessly wide.
And then came the fatal blow for Shamrock Celtic. The excellent Conor Dodd took the ball around Gary Doyle and a flailing challenge from Doyle caused Carl Doyle to sound the shrill whistle for a penalty.
Peter Walker took on the responsibility and he drove it low and hard to Hodgkinson’s right, giving the Shamrock Celtic netminder no chance of saving. 3-0 to Arklow Town and surely no way back for a Celtic side who had looked fairly limited in attack up to this point.
But sometimes all a team needs is a moment of magic to give them hope where no hope appears to be. A poor clearance from Horsman in the Town goal sent the ball to Glen McCarthy in the bright orange boots and the Celtic midfielder sent back a missile over Horsman’s head that flew into the top corner of the Town goal to make it 3-1 to the home side after 41 minutes.
Celtic lost Philip Gill to injury a moment later and they sent in Bob Quinn for the remainder of the game.
Town would come looking for goals on two more occasions before the break, but Edward Dunne’s volley was gathered by Hodgkinson who also collected a hopeful ball from Dillon Mordaunt.
Both sides made changes throughout the second half and both had plenty of chances over the course of the 45 minutes, but Horsman and Hodgkinson proved capable in both goals.
Kevin Coady had a shot from distance that he never really got hold of before a Dillon Mordaunt free was gathered by Hodgkinson in the Celtic goal at the other end.
Craig Snell made the most important interception of the night 28 minutes into the second half when he got his head to a neat ball over the top from Celtic’s David Shorthall who was busy and keen all night.
Horsman had to be alert to gather a ricochet from a Town clearance that rebounded off a Celtic body moments later.
A sweet ball from Peter Walker released Paul Kelty but he was fouled by Greg Doyle with Edward Dunne’s free being saved well by Hodgkinson.
Celtic just couldn’t find that second goal that might have swung the game’s momentum in their favour.
They found it too difficult to break down a physically superior Town side who had useful operators all over the pitch.
A decent game on a cold and wet night at the Bridgewater Centre Park with Town’s effective attacking play proving to be Celtic’s undoing in the opening half.
Shamrock Celtic, who lost out to Arklow Town in their Division 3 match on Friday evening.
Arklow Town, who overcame the Shamrock Celtic challenge in their Division 3 match at Bridgewater Centre Park.