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Feature game Leinster Leader

KDFL Under 20 Division 2

Newbridge Rovers FC 1 Straffan AFC 2

Chapel Lane, Newbridge was the venue for this KDFL Div 2 league tie between Newbridge Rovers FC and Straffan AFC. 

In a game in which the weather the previous evening meant that it was always going to be a tight and toughly contested dual with the pitch very soft and slippery underfoot conditions setting the game up to be more of a battle than a free flowing passing game.

Both sides started this one very well with not much been given away by either side in the first quarter of an hour with both sides battling and feeling the game out in the early stages. Rovers Club captain Jack McCormack came closest in the early stages for his side finding his range and getting a few strikes off from distance but the Straffan keeper had his angles covered . Straffan had chances of their own including Tom Donovan  when he played a through ball to Cathal Kealy, who was denied a shot on target by a great tackle from Newbridge’s Conor Lynch. 

Rovers grew into the half as it went on but where undone when an outstretched leg from a Rovers defender in the Rover’s box made the referee point to the spot on the half hour when Straffan’s Tom Donovan was taken down in the box and a penalty was awarded. The Straffan penalty was stopped by a great save from Newbridge goalkeeper Cillian Halpin. Newbridge had the momentum after the penalty save but it was short lived as Straffan scored in the thirty third minute, the goal came from a great pass by Tom Donovan into Cathal Kealy,  Cathal then turned and lobbed keeper Halpin from twenty five yards out giving him no chance, putting the visitors 1-0 up. 

Rovers pushed hard to the half time break ,trying to get level but couldn’t find the net despite having a few good long range efforts but at the half time break it was Rovers 0-1 Straffan.

The home side started the second half strong and now starting to win more duals and second balls as well, showing the fight that is needed to get back into a game. Rovers where mainly restricted to a lot of shots from range and also had most efforts in the box blocked by a Straffan defender as they defended the eighteen yard area well . With best chances coming to Rovers Brian Caffrey from a lovely ball that was whipped in by Jack McCormack into the box and headed just wide by Brian and then by JJ Fitzgerald when another beautiful ball in but this time low and hard across the box from the right side of the area by Ryan Henby looked to be landing at JJ Fitzgerald’s feet but somehow the defender did just enough to put off the Rovers man . 

The game remained in the balance with both teams fighting to grab a hold of the game until the eightieth minute when Straffan’s Tom Donovan made a powerful run down the right wing beating three Newbridge players. Tom slowed as he approached the box, he then squared the ball to PJ Heslin who shot from outside the box and was only denied by another great save from Newbridge goalkeeper Cillian Halpin. 

Rovers eventually got their reward for their efforts as a mistimed tackle from a Straffan defender in the area on JJ Fitzgerald allowed Rovers their turn to see if they could score from the spot this time as club captain Jack McCormack took the responsibility to step up and he slotted calmly into the bottom right corner to make it Rovers 1-1 Straffan ,Game on ! 

Just as Rovers had battled so hard to get back into the game about a minute after scoring they found themselves 2-1 down with a mix up at the back allowing Straffan to capitalise when Aidan Duffy played a through ball from centre back straight to Tom Donovan who found himself one on one with keeper Halpin and he finished the chance with ease to put the north Kildare men alead with five minutes remaining. 

Rovers really gave it a push again though showing great commitment and team togetherness to keep pushing but it was too little too late for the home side and Straffan held out for a hard fought three points. Best for the winners were their man of the match Tom Donovan, Jack Ferris, Tadhg McCauley and PJ Heslin while for Rovers Cillian Halpin was outstanding in goal while best of the rest were Jack McCormack, JP Dignam, Conor Lynch and Cathal Bolger. 


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