IVEAGH Thistle welcomed Belfast team Ridgeway Rovers to Banbridge in the George Best U11 League.
Thistle, who are on a good run which has elevated them up to a healthy third in the league, started the game on the front foot with Woods and McCavitt battling hard in midfield getting the ball forward early to strikers Donnelly and Cairns but the Ridgeway defence held firm.
With 15 minutes gone and the game evenly poised a speculative ball forward from Moore looked to be over-hit and should have been dealt with by the Ridgeway defence and keeper but they all left it to each other and McCavitt nipped in stealing the ball and dispatched into the net.
Almost straight away it could have been 2-0 when after a clever turn by Moore in midfield he again played in McCavitt but the keeper bravely saved diving at his feet.
Ridgeway, playing on the counter attack, worked the ball well down the left wing producing a cross into the box that was met with a superb strike from their oncoming striker giving keeper Hunter no chance levelling the game on 20 minutes.
From the kick-off the away side, now with extra confidence, pushed forward again and another thunder bolt seemed on its way in but the bar came to Thistle’s rescue. After a five minute spell an under pressure Thistle seemed to be regaining their composure but a Ridgeway shot through a crowded penalty box, found the bottom corner sending them 2-1 in front.
The second half started with Thistle making two changes, Carswell and Breen on for Wilson and McMillan and early on the home team should have levelled when from a corner Russell’s shot was blocked, Breen’s effort was cleared off the line and Moore shot just wide.
This was followed by another chance as a Woods header played in McCavitt but a great tackle prevented him getting his shot away.
Walker replaced Russell on 12 minutes as Thistle were now pushing forward at every opportunity keeping Ridgeway camped in their own half and further chances for Donnelly and Woods went close.
Although Thistle were having the lion’s share of the game Ridgeway still looked dangerous on the break and keeper Hunter had to be on his toes beating an attacker to a through ball to kick clear.
With five minutes left the home side had a succession of corners and free kicks around the Ridgeway box but could not penetrate the resilient defence, that was until Donnelly picked up the ball and went on a dribbling run into the box drawing defenders towards him as he slid the ball to McCavitt whose shot found the net to level the match.
The final sub was made with Hunter replacing Cairns as they now went for the winner, peppering their opponents’ goal with crosses and shots but it was not to be as Ridgeway somehow managed to hold on in this very entertaining game.
Iveagh Thistle would like to thank RK Murdock and Sons for their kind sponsorship of the match ball.