KDFL Senior Cup (Quarter Final)
Ballycane Celtic FC 3 Arlington FC 4
A seven goal thriller at Ballycane this morning with neither side conceding an inch in a compelling contest that was end to end from the opening kickoff.
Arlington were out of the blocks quickly and looked threatening on both wing ,with Jake o Reilly and Sam Blackburn having to be on top of their game in the opening exchanges following threats from Arlington’s Pheilum o Kane. The visitors moved the ball at pace but were confined to a few long range efforts as the Ballycane midfield trio of Preston, Bubba Doyle and Larkin tried to establish a dominant hold of midfield with both sets of players putting some quality tackles in.
Ballycane drew first blood with Lee Short played an excellent over the top ball and Liam Dreamy raced through on goal and calmly slotted home to give the home side the lead with twenty minutes played 1-0. The home side nearly doubled their lead moments later when Stephen Durney hit the side netting after a good build up play By Doyle and Preston In midfield. Arlington to their credit were really applying the pressure and created and succession of chances but Kevin Higgins in the Ballycane goal pulled off three excellent saves, two at point blank range from a Shane Nealon's shot and then from Daniel Stefanov's shot on the follow up to keep Ballycane in the lead.
Arlington put the game back on level terms with sweetly struck freekick from twenty yards that nestled in the bottom corner from a spot kick from Ceilum Maher on the half hour mark 1-1. Arlington had the chance to grab the lead moments later after Craig Byrne bundled over Shane Nealon, Nealon stepped up himself but found the Higgins once again and in great form saving low to his right. The game really opening up now with Liam Dreamy and Keelan Noone forcing the Arlington keeper into two good saves consecutively. Lee Short at Centre-half for Ballycane made some vital tackles and interceptions to keep the home side on the front foot. With Dean Preston making massive tackles around the middle never lettings the Arlington midfield settle. Ballycane had the last chance of the half Keelan Noone delivered and pinpoint accurate set-piece from the halfway mark, and Bubba Doyle took flight through a clatter of defender's with a brilliant diving header that produced a excellent save from the Arlington keeper to end the half.
Ballycane playing into strong headwind in the second half with Arlington pinning the home side deep in their half in the opening mintutes. Preston, Bubba Doyle and Larkin really working hard to get Ballycane a steady foot hold in the game. Arlington looked a little sharper in the final third and managed to grab the lead with well worked move down the right flank that was well finished by Stephen Flanagan on the hour mark 2-1. The home side still well in this game created the move of the game, with Jake O Reilly playing first time pass to Bubba Doyle who swivelled and turned his man played a quick pass to Keelan Noone who played an audacious backheel back to Bubba Doyle who split the Arlington Rearguard with an inch perfect first time ball to Liam Dreamy who weaved his way through two player's and was bundled over in the penalty area, and the referee waved it off no penalty. Both sides made a string of changes with Ballycane welcoming back Callum O Reilly after a lengthy injury. Ballycane got themselves right back in the game with very direct goal. A Kevin Higgins goal kick was flicked on expertly by Bubba Doyle and Callum O Reilly raced through on goal and was brought down by the Arlington keeper, no hesitation this time as the referee awarded Ballycane a penalty kick . Up stepped Liam Dreamy who converted with a quality spot kick cool as cucumber to put Ballycane right back on level terms2-2.
The home side looked comfortable at this stage and nearly grabbed the lead after Callum O Reilly latched on a long Kevin Higgins ball got it under control on the end line before whipping in danger cross that Keelan Noone at full stretch just failed to get the vital touch. Ballycanes who defended admirably all day will be disappointed in conceding that third goal after they failed to clear their lines after numerous attempts the ball was eventually prodded home by Arlington’s Shane Nealon with fifteen minutes to play 3-2. The home side to their credit didn't drop the heads and seemed to rally behind each other. Preston and Doyle in Midfield really hounding the ball and that pay dividends almost immediately with the duo forcing Arlington to concede possession and Liam Dreamy latched on that loose ball and hit wicked first time snap shot that found the back of the net from Twenty five yards to bring Ballycane back on level terms 3-3 in an breath taking end to end contest.
The tie looked like it was heading for extra time, but Ballycane threw caution to the wind and went for the win , a quick freekick by Keelan Noone to Bubba Doyle who whipped in a teasing cross which Lee Short directed goal bound and was well blocked , Liam Dreamy has a second bite at it but could find a gap behind a compact Arlington back four. With mere seconds remaining on the clock Ballycane were slow to reset and got caught with classic counter attack that was finished well by Nealon to give Arlington 4-3 lead and subsequently the game . An excellent contest between two teams and special mention to the referee who was exceptional. Best for Ballycane were Kevin Higgins in goal Lee Short and Sam Blackburn at the back the impressive Preston and Bubba Doyle in Midfield , Keelan Noone worked tirelessly up top but Liam Dreamy out wide was on a different level today with a Hattrick. Best for the winners were Robbie Mc Neill , Ceilum Maher , Shane Nealon and man of the match Joe Gorman who at the age of 38 ran his socks off all game.