u12 MSL Europa Blue
Wednesday 19 April
St Francis White vs Raharney Utd
For their first midweek fixture of the season the Raharney Utd squad had a long trip to Athlone to test their recent run of good form against a St Francis team who had twice beaten them this season in fantastic end to end matches. And the large crowd of watching supporters were not disappointed as yet another great battle was played out.
Raharney were onto the offensive from the kick off and very quickly were earning corners and frees deep in the home team’s half, and only for some strong defence and solid goalkeeping might have hit the net early on. Not to be, and St Francis soon settled into their own passing and pressing game and it was the Raharney back line’s turn to stand firm and deal with corners and box tussles, calling on OJ in the nets time and time again to keep the game level. 20mins into the half the visitors got the breakthrough both teams were threatening to earn, and in one of his trademark direct forward runs Oisín broke through the midfield defensive line and slid the ball forward to Ryan on the overlap for a carefully placed pass into the right of the St Francis net. The response, a goal 1min later from St Francis, which to the relief of the Raharney crowd was disallowed for offside.
Into the 2nd half and once again the Raharney team started on the offensive, with Rachel carrying the ball along the right and delivering a beautifully weighted cross to Ryan who from point blank range made sure to burst the net. The St Francis response was impressive and for the next 15mins they piled on the pressure and really tested Tadgh M who was wearing the gloves for the first time in competition, but he was up for the challenge, pulling the ball out of the air, pushing it away for defenders to clear, and putting it wide for corners. Into the last 10mins and the late kick off was showing, first to capitalise on the gaps being St Francis who scored pulling back to 1-2, with plenty of time remaining to make a go of it, but just not with the running in the legs to hunt down a result. Raharney had the last shout with a long range pass from Guillem troubling the keeper, and then a lovely curling short range shot from Tadhg H inside the box, clearly drifting its way for a rebound off the far post into the goal, pushed wide of the post by a scrambling St Francis defender - “hand ball” came the roar from travelling Raharney support and players alike, time stood still, the Ref had a long close look at it, and being closer and more focussed than all the onlookers judged it a corner, seconds after which came the final whistle.
Player of the Match in these tight games is a always a tough call, but by unanimous vote by the Coaches it goes to Rachel who normally sits forward on the pitch on the wing but today was called upon to be part of a defensive unit that stuck together and worked hard for each other for the full 60mins, as well as getting forward to create the second goal with a perfect cross.
Guillem (Captain, midfield); OJ (goalie, midfield); Tadgh M (defence, goalie); Calum (defence); Cayden (defence); Bartek (defence, midfield); Rachel (defence, midfield); Conal (midfield, defence); Ryan (midfield); Alex (midfield); Oisín (midfield); AJ (midfield, striker); Tadhg H (striker)