MONEYSLANE’S first team entertained AFC Craigavon in the clash of the day in the Intermediate ‘B’ at the weekend.
It was a game full of everything - wonder goals, physical challenges, controversial decisions and a sending off in front of a large enthusiastic crowd up the sidelines.
Both teams started off at an electrical pace but it was Slane who were dominating the opening minutes attacking up the flanks with Johnny Kernaghan and Thomas Lockhart to great effect. Mark Ervine was creating good space off the ball and when Thomas McCann picked him out with a good pass he hit his effort just over the bar.
Three minutes later Jonny O’Neill curled the ball into the penalty area and centre back Andy Rowan headed wide. Cullen Feeney lofted a free kick deep into the AFC box and Ervine nodded down to Lockhart who shot just wide.
Slane were playing with great passion and looked comfortable on the ball but the visitors were firing in some hefty challenges especially in midfield, Colin Brown and Thomas McCann were exceptional working off each other and their distribution of the ball was exquisite.
AFC were dangerous using the width and their number ten was a real handful for the Slane defence of Rowan, O’Neill, Feeney and Davenport but they stood strong in front of a vocal Nigel Fry in the Slane goals.
Davenport played the ball up the line to Weir who floated a cross over to Ervine who volleyed wide of the target.
Robbie Weir made a great break through the AFC defence and he hit well but the keeper pulled off a good save.
Slane were intensifying the pace of the game and the visitors were giving away a lot of free kicks with late tackles.
Kernaghan had a shot charged down but the young man from Moneyslane had the crowd on both sides of the pitch standing applauding in amazement and admiration when he picked up the ball five yards into the AFC half, looked up and spotted the keeper off his line and lobbed in a powerful shot that sailed straight into the top corner of the net for a wonder goal and a massive contender for goal of the season, just like David Beckham’s goal against Wimbledon in 2006.
It was all Slane and the visitors were working hard but they were finding the pace of the game difficult to keep up with, Lockhart almost doubling Slane’s lead when he neatly lobbed the ball over the keeper who was rooted to the spot but the ball bounced back of the bar.
The visitors were given a life line when they were rewarded a dubious controversial penalty when Cullen Feeney made a challenge for the ball inside the box and the striker fell to the ground and the ref pointed to the spot. The penalty was neatly converted into the bottom corner to draw the game level.
Both Kernaghan and Lockhart were making unreal runs into the voids left by the AFC defence - Kernaghan picked up the ball on the left and crossed to Lockhart who nodded down to Ervine on the edge of the box and his shot whizzed inches over the crossbar.
This was more like a cup final than a league game such was the swiftness and pace of the game with Slane going for the jugular at every opportunity.
Slane were rewarded a free kick with four minutes to the break and Kernaghan delivered a perfect ball deep into the back of the six yard box and Ervine rose high to head home his eighth goal of the season and put Slane in front again.
With just one minute left to half time again AFC were fortunate when a shot from outside the box was deflected over the head of Fry giving him no chance and thus sending both teams into the changing rooms on level par.
David Boyd was introduced to the game at left back and the second half started at a slower pace compared to the first half, Kernaghan floated a dangerous ball from the left hand side over the head of the defender and Ervine volleyed wide of the far post. Lee Feeney also came on and slotted into midfield for Slane. He found McCann with a pass, who hit a powerful shot but it sailed straight at the keeper who held well.
On the hour the visitors were reduced to ten men for a second yellow card as the game reached boiling point for not the first occasion.
The visitors were working hard and a good build up from the right was crossed into the feet of the big striker who turned sharply but shot just over the top.
Neil Bingham checked the ball back to Ervine from wide right and he had his shot charged down and the resulting corner was headed wide by O’Neill.
With three minutes to go, an AFC mid-fielder had a shot from distance that swirled in the air and Fry got a hand to push it over the bar.
Davy Boyd had an effort go wide and the ref was glad to blow up for the end as the visitors were getting very physical and abusive towards the end.
Overall a great performance by Slane on the day and it was clearly the stiffest opposition they have played to date in this League, man of the match was a tough call but manager Glen Moffett said Johnny Kernaghan and Colin Brown both stood out.
Team: Fry, C Feeney, A Rowan, J Davenport, J O’Neill, R Weir, C Brown, T McCann, M Ervine, J Kernaghan, T Lockhart, N Bingham, D Boyd, L Feeney.