Cup win for Thistle

LOCAL side Iveagh Thistle travelled to Carryduff to taken on Ridgeway Rovers in the George Best U11 League Cup.

The sides had played out a hard fought draw in the league several weeks earlier so a close encounter was anticipated.

From the off Ridgeway pushed forward, putting the Thistle defence and midfield on the back foot having to close down and chase their opponents but for all their endeavour the Belfast side never got a chance to test keeper Hunter as his back four of Russell, Scott, Stewart and Carswell were in a mean mood.

Thistle’s first real attack came on eight minutes when Donnelly and Moore combined to set up captain Woods whose curling shot from outside the box went narrowly wide.

Thistle having now ridden the early Ridgeway storm started to get the ball down and got their passing game going, and it was from such play that the first goal came when a great piece of wing play from Breen provided the perfect cross into the box met by Donnelly who found the top of the net.

With their tails up Thistle had a great 15 minute spell from where front to back they seemed first to all breaking balls and were unlucky not to score a second when, from a Woods free kick, McCavitt’s clever flick went inches over the bar.

The second goal did arrive with a great team move, safe hands Hunter’s long kick out was met by the head of Moore whose flick on set Donnelly running at the defence, as the keeper approached he slipped the ball sideways to McCavitt who had kept up with play and scored into an empty net.

At half time Cairns came on for McMillan but it was Ridgeway who again started the stronger, playing with high intensity, and twice Hunter had to be sharp off his line to smother the ball as the pressure grew.

Ten minutes in Donnelly, after taking a knock, was replaced by hard tackling Hunter as Thistle were now forced into playing on the break gamely holding onto their lead.

On 20 minutes Moore was replaced by a recovered Donnelly and impressive right back Russell, who also took a knock in an increasingly physical game, was replaced by Walker. With 10 minutes left the pressure told when Ridgeway scored an impressive goal from outside the box into the top corner to make the score 2-1.

Thistle then introduced the fresh legs of Wilson, replacing Breen, in a bid to regain momentum and this seemed to work as in the dying minutes it was Thistle, driven by captain Woods, who were pushing forward.

The last action of the match saw a Wilson header flash wide as the ref blew the final whistle and Iveagh Thistle could celebrate in cup fever style.