Colts miss out on chance to topple league leaders

St Mary’s 3 Carryduff Colts 2

Carryduff Colts centre back Mattie O'Rourke goes close against St Mary's in the top of the table clash

Carryduff Colts missed a glorious opportunity to knock NI Amateur League 2C leaders St Mary’s off pole position and move into the top two after losing a two goal lead to end up on the wrong side of a five goal thriller.

It was clear from the outset why the North Belfast team are leading the way, they are a big, strong team with good footballers and they dominated the opening 45 minutes.

Colts back four of Joe Sweeney, Rory McDonnell, Matthew O’Rourke and Paul Murphy defended well but the home team did create a few chances with which they could have done better but had forgotten their shooting boots, although one free kick on the edge of the box was fired in with some venom that served as a warning

Ciaran Sherry taking on St Mary's defence before setting up the opening goal for Carryduff Colts

And it was against the run of play that Colts took the lead on the half hour when the fulcrum of the Colts attack, striker Ciaran Sherry took on the home defence, leaving a host of players in this trail, before pulling a cross back into the path of midfielder Fergus McBride who fired home a terrific goal.

The strike gave the visitor more confidence and they started to push forward a bit more during the closing stages of the first half with Paul Haley, McBride and young James White starting to exert some control and Sherry had another couple of excellent shots that the goalkeeper managed to save.

Playing into the wind in the second half, Colts sat too deep and only for goalkeeper Sean McCaffrey who bravely clawed out a series of corners from under his crossbar, the home team would have got back level.

Instead, Colts hit them on the break on the hour mark - great work again by Sherry and McBride found Mattie McNally free on the right side of the box and her slipped the ball past the goalkeeper to give Carryduff a two-goal lead.

Odhran Sherry replaced Euan McNicholl and Michael Deeny came in for James White to give the visitors fresh legs but within a few minutes St Mary’s pulled one back. Not having taken the first half warning on the danger of free kicks, Colts conceded one 25 yards from goal and the big midfielder fired home a superb effort to reduce the deficit.

Colts could have killed the game off immediately after when a great break from substitute Odhran Sherry found his brother Ciaran in the centre and just when it looked certain that the two-goal lead would be restored the goalkeeper pulled off a quite magnificent save. Colts suffered a blow when Odhran, who had made a big impact as sub, was forced off through injury and Rory Timoney was introduced into the action.

That proved to be the turning point and with 20 minutes to go Colts conceded a needless corner that was expertly delivered to the back post and the centre back popped up to fire an unstoppable header into the top corner.

The league leaders now pushed for a winner but Colts defence looked resolute and a draw looked most likely until another error of judgement gave then a simply winner - the normally reliable Murphy threw the ball back to his goalkeeper McCaffrey who under pressure kicked the ball directly to an attacker on the edge of the box and he fired in what proved to be the winner.

Colts McCaffrey, Sweeney, Murphy, McDonnell (c), O’Rourke, McBride, McNicholl (O.Sherry) (Timoney) Haley, C Sherry, White (Deeny), McNally