Carrick Rovers 17's hosted near neighbours, Newtown, in a rescheduled fixture, on the Carrick Aces pitch on Saturday morning. Newtown are currently top of the NECSL 17's League and only last week beat a strong Cork side to qualify for the last 8 of the FAI Umbro Cup, so this was always going to be a hard game.
The game started at a high tempo, with no quarter asked for or taken from either side. The visitors properly had the most of the early possession without really penetrating the Rovers defense of Ryan Carolan, Ian Martin, Thomas Finnegan and Cian Matthews. Mark Kieran having to only deal with any through balls from the Newtown forward line. The pattern of the game was set early with both sides having to work extremely hard to create any real clear cut openings. Rovers began to get to grips with their opponents in midfield, with David Wilson, Rob Berg and Patrick Larney really putting in a great shift and this began to swing the amount of possession in Carrick's favour.
After 12 minutes the home side put a good move together with Matthews feeding Padraig Marron out wide and he cut inside before finding striker Stephen Cunningham with a clever pass. Cunningham took a touch before firing just wide from 25 yards. On 21 minutes again Matthews and Marron combined and the winger broke free on the left and his drilled shot flew across the 6 yard area with Aaron Jones just failing to get a touch at the back post. Newtown responded and Kieran was called into action from a corner on 30 minutes. Jones was coming more and more into the game and was unlucky with an effort after coming in off the right wing to flash a shot just over the crossbar. On 38 minutes Rovers won a free kick in a dangerous position just outside the box. Larney stood over the ball but his strike lacked enough power to really trouble the keeper. The half ended in stalemate with both sides cancelling out each other.
Halftime Carrick Rovers 0-0 Newtown
Newtown made a few changes with a couple of their regular players appearing for the 2nd half. The tempo again was set early on with some meaty tackles going in from both sides. On 55 minutes the visitors broke the deadlock from a corner. The visiting player swung a dangerous cross into the near post and a Newtown player got the final touch to force the ball past Kieran on the line. Rovers responded straight away and nearly equalised after a tremendous ball from Wilson put Jones away with just the last defender and keeper to beat and the form that Jones is in you would have backed him to score but after the drilled passed the defender and had the keeper to face another defender got back to block his shot. Again Rovers upped their game and went looking for a leveller. Marron broke free on the left and drove into the area but just couldn't pick out a Rovers player with his cross. Cunningham was making a nuisance of himself and won possession on the edge of the area but his shot was always rising. Rovers had all the play now and had Newtown on the back foot. On 65 minutes they forced a corner kick after good approach work from Carolan. Marron delivered a great ball to the back post where Wilson rose to meet cross. His 1st effort was blocked but as the ball dropped he swung a boot at the ball to send it goal bound. The ball rebounded around the 6 yard box before Marron's shot was handled on the line. Larney stroked the ball home giving the keeper no chance.
Ronan O'Callaghan came on for Marron on 72 minutes. The next goal was always going to be decisive in this encounter and Rovers looked to have created it as Berg won a great tackle in midfield on 81 minutes before finding Jones who picked out Larney's run with a great pass. Larney controlled and headed for goal but as the keeper came out to narrow the angle, Larney thundered his shot over the bar. This proved crucial as Newtown created a chance 3 minutes later when their midfielder picked up a ball on the halfway line before going on a great run that put him into the Rovers area and his near post cross was flicked home by a Newtown player. Rovers keep going looking for a goal that would have given them a deserved point but the visitors held out.
Final Score Carrick Rovers 1-2 Newtown