Carrick Rovers 13’s hosted BallyJamesDuff on Saturday afternoon on the Carrick Aces pitch in a CMUL Premier fixture. The match was played on one of the few grass pitches in the North East area that was playable which is a credit to the state of the drainage on the land. BJD are in a very strong position in the league and this was always going to be a tough test for the home side.
The visitors started sharply and had Rovers on the back foot early on. In the 8th minute they put together a good move from the halfway line and as the striker advanced towards the Carrick area, he was brought down. The big centre half stood over the ball and struck a sweet shot high over the wall which seemed to be heading into the top corner only for Killian McNulty in the home goals to shuffle over his line and stretch to get two strong hands to and push the ball over the crossbar for a corner, a fantastic save. He was called into action again 10 minutes later when BJD again created an opening and the striker’s shot had goal written all over it, only for McNulty to again produce an excellent stop. The visitors were asking all the questions and though the Carrick backline of Cathal O’Rourke, Robert McCloskey, Liam Og Murray and Tiernan McCourt were putting up a battling performance, eventually the pressure told and after a goalmouth scrambled the ball was forced home. Rovers responded well and the midfield of Jared Wenham, Dillon Carolan and Jamie King pushed the away side back. On 25 minutes Wenham won possession and passed to Carolan who released Eoghan Duffy on the right wing, he pushed a ball in behind the BJD defence and Tadg Callaghan raced onto the through pass, only for the keeper to come out and make a smothering tackle. BJD came forward again and after a missed tackle in the middle of the field they exploited the opportunity. The striker struck a sweet cross shot at McNulty, who made a great diving save but the BJD player was 1st to react to the loose ball to score. With halftime approaching the visitors came forward again and after a ball was not properly dealt with in the box, the ball fell to a BJD player to tap home.
Halftime Carrick Rovers 0-3 BallyJamesDuff
After the break the visitors started were they had left off and another good save by McNulty to push a goal bound shot around the post, kept the score the same. Rovers now rolled up their sleeves and began to pressure the visitors higher up the pitch. 7 minutes into the half, Callaghan closed down the right back and won possession. He passed the ball to Dylan McCahey who raced for goal. Again the keeper raced out of his goal but McCahey picked out Callaghan again and he cleverly lifted the ball over the keeper and into the unguarded net. Donnacha Swinburne came in for O’Rourke and Oisin O’Hanlon came on for Carolan. Rovers had their tails up now and McCahey, who’d had a relatively quiet 1st half by his standards, began to torture the BJD defence. On 53 minutes, McCourt, who’d pushed up into, dispossessed a BJD midfielder and found McCahey with an accurate pass. The tricky winger dribbled forward before placing a pass in behind the away defence. The pass looked to be the keepers but King raced onto it and got there just before him. As he attempted to go around the keeper, he was clipped for a spot kick. Murray strolled up from the back to drill the ball low into the bottom corner. Rovers were rampant now and went looking for an equalizer and Ryhs Jones came on for Callaghan with Swinburne pushing forward with great effect, supply some terrific crosses from both play and dead ball situations. Again McCahey was proving to be too much of a handful for the BJD defence and in the 60th minute his mazy run create space for Wenham to collect the ball some 25 yards from goal and unleash a swerving shot that gave the keeper no chance, to equalize. At this point Rovers looked good for what looked like a deserved point on their 2nd half performance, but a lapse in concentration from a throw-in gifted BJD an easy goal. To their credit these Carrick lads came back again and the reintroduced Carolan made great progress down the right wing before finding O’Hanlon who weaved his way into the penalty area to strike a shot that looked to be in, only for the BJD keeper to make a great save down to his right, to push the ball around the post.
Fulltime Carrick Rovers 3-4 BallyJamesDuff
A great 2nd half display, but nothing to show for it. This Rovers team walked of the pitch with heads held high knowing they are going in the right direction and playing the game the way it should be.