DONACLONEY travelled to play The Dons on Saturday past knowing that they must win to stay in contention with the top of the table teams.
Conditions were quite blustery on the day and Cloney played into a stiff headwind in the first half. This did not seem to affect the Cloney as they started to create openings during the early exchanges.
Knox headed wide well when placed from his strike partner Leckey inviting cross while Brooker fizzed one over and Beattie failed to find the back of the net when well placed.
Cloney did take the lead 15 minutes in when Leckey, whose pace had been causing all sorts of problems, beat 2 men and squared the ball to Brooker to leave him with the simplest of tasks of rolling into an empty net.
Cloney seemed at ease at the back with Watson, Woods, McKinley and Carson dealing with the lively Dons forwards. Disaster struck at the half hour mark Woods and Watson both had come up for a corner which the Dons keeper collected. His long punt beat the Cloney cover and the forward raced in to slot past a hapless Haire.
Cloney did not rest on their laurels and regained the initiative 2 minutes later.
McAdam was dragged down and the resulting free kick was delivered by Brooker. He swung the ball deep to the back post and Knox rose unmarked to head back across goal over the prone keeper and inside the opposite post.
Before the break Haire then made 2 great saves when called upon and Cloney made the most of this as they added a third just before the interval. A Brooker throw in was flicked on by Knox to Leckey. Leckey then raced past 3 defenders and nonchalantly flicked the ball past the onrushing keeper with the outside of this right boot.
After the break The Dons come out with renewed impetus and took the game to the Cloney, pushing them deeper into their own half. Cloney defended stoutly and ensured that there were no easy opportunities for their opponents, while midfielder McAdam dropped deeper to provide extra cover.
Cloney made some changes with Shields coming on for the industrious Buchanan while Graham replaced danger man Leckey. Shields almost immediately made an impact with a run down the line only for his pull back to be cleared by the Dons backline.
Graham then had a chance to put some breathing space between the teams as he beat the offside trap only to see his effort roll the wrong side of the post. With 15 minutes remaining Cloney were made to panic. The Dons won a harsh free-kick on the edge of the box which was well struck into the bottom corner of the net to reduce the deficit to one.
Cloney defended resiliently as Dons pushed and on a break the Dons keeper pulled of a wonder save denying Beattie from point black range. The game petered out as Cloney clung on to their slender advantage.
Best on the day for the Cloney was Steven Leckey who especially in the first half terrorised The Dons defence. At times Cloney did show some naivety but will welcome another 3 points.
Donacloney Reserves picked up a long awaited 2nd win of the season at home to Lurgan United, with a convincing 3-0 display. Scorers on the day were David Calvert, Paddy Connon and Chris Vallely. Paddy was captaining the team on the day as he played his last game before moving to New Zealand, and it was fitting that he capped it with a goal. All associated with the Club would like to wish him all the best for his new undertaking.
This week Donacloney 1sts have no fixture. The Reserves are at home to Armagh Blues, as they seek to build on last week’s performance.