DONACLONEY travelled to Mid Ulster Division Four’s basement team Granville on Saturday, hoping to continue their recent good form which has seen goals flow in.
Granville definitely looked up for the game as they come out of the blocks with some purpose. They hassled and harried all over the park and not letting the Cloney team settle into an early rhythm.
In fact Cloney were glad to see their backline of Watson, Woods, Shields and McKinley on form as they deprived the Granville frontline of any real opportunities.
As the half progressed Cloney eventually got to grips with the opposition. Darren Brooker unleashed a thunderous drive from 30 yards which went through the keeper’s hands only to rebound to safety of his head.
Hilary and Leckey playing up front started to gel and half chances fell to both strikers, unfortunately the ball never quite set right at the moment of contact. Hilary was the culprit from close range after a Leckey effort come back of the crossbar at an awkward height which he failed to direct, with the goal at his mercy.
After some stern words at half time from Gregson, Cloney come out with an improved tempo to their play. Karl Diven was immediately finding space on the left as Cloney tried to play with more width.
Cloney were forced into a change soon into the half as Beattie who had been struggling with an ankle knock was replaced by Ryan Graham, himself just returning from injury.
Graham was quick into action playing a ball into Knox who turned the defender only to be upended in the box to give the Cloney the opportunity from the spot. Watson stepped up and scored only to the bewilderment of all Cloney players the ref ordered a re-take. The ref giving the reason that the opposition defender had encroached into the area. Needless to say the keeper saved Watson’s second attempt.
Credit to Cloney, they did not panic and within five minutes they had taken the lead as Graham powered in a perfect header from a Brooker corner to give them the lead on 55 minutes.
Granville started to pay for their high tempo start as they started to tire and Cloney exploited the space. Cloney’s chances were improved when a Granville player was given his marching orders for a loss of discipline.
Cloney increased their lead to two when top scorer Steven Leckey cut through the home defence and rounded the keeper to slot into the empty net.
Buchanan and Carson came on, replacing Hilary and McKinley, both of whom put in a solid shift. The subs slotting in straight away and Buchanan immediately found room overlapping down the left only to see an effort from distance charged down.
Good play down the right from Carson and Shields saw the latter play a perfect through ball to Brooker. Brooker and Diven who had stole into the box got in each others way as Brooker tamely shot at the keeper.
Cloney grabbed a third before the final whistle, this time a ball played into Leckey caused havoc again. This time he rolled it across to Diven who placed his close range shot were the bemused keeper had come from.
On the day Cloney had a tougher match than they had perhaps anticipated, credit must go to Granville who battled valiantly and perhaps are a better team than the table suggests.
The Cloney defence stood firm all day and never really looked like conceding. Credit must go to the returning Ryan Graham for making a great impact after coming of the bench.
This week the Cloney face a tougher match, away to Armagh Blues in the quarter finals of the divisional cup, while the Reserves hope to get back to action as the host Craigavon City.