Whites battle out for a draw against Tobermore United

Lisburn Distillery returned to league action on Saturday with a game against basement side Tobermore United, who going into the game still had not won a league game this season.

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There were a couple of changes to the side with Joe Reid returning from suspension and Stephen Sullivan dropping out for the same reason.

Caolan Conlon and Jonah Nicholl returned to the starting line-up with Conan McAuley and Corey Pollock dropping to the bench. It was a landmark day for captain Aaron Harris, who marked his 150th appearance for the club.

Tobermore had the first effort on goal after three minutes of play, but Nicholl was easily able to hold the free kick hit goal ward from range.

This was one of the only points of note in the opening stages of the game as both sides found it difficult to adapt to the blustery conditions, the visitors aimed a few crosses into the box, but Nicholl gathered most of these without much trouble.

Opportunity did present itself for the Whites in the 16th minute when Tobermore goalkeeper, Lukasz Bednarz was forced to come a long way out of his box but could not clear the loose ball, Mick O’Hanlon and Conlon tried to take advantage but were blocked by a combination of the goalkeeper and defence.

A golden opportunity for the home side went begging just past the 30-minute mark when Mikey Withers played O’Hanlon in on goal and the number seven cut back infield to escape the attentions of his marker.

The in-form player thought about going for goal but was perhaps put off by the tight angle so attempted to square to Withers, who had continued his run into the box, but the ball was well off the mark and went out for a goal kick.

Before the break Withers and Ryan Jackson both tried their luck from range but their efforts on goal were both held by Bednarz.

The first half ended with little to talk about, and little football played due to the strong winds swirling around the ground.

On those occasions when the wind dropped the Whites had played the better football and created the better chances but had nothing to show for these efforts so far.

Half-time: Distillery 0-0 Tobermore

The Whites were playing with the wind behind them in the second half and would hope to take advantage of this.

They did have the first sight of goal of the half in the 54th minute when Timmy Clarke fired a dangerous looking free kick into the opposition box that was headed behind for a corner.

From the corner, O’Hanlon found Harris at the back post but unlike last Saturday the midfielder headed off target.

Three minutes later and another corner delivered into the Tobermore box caused a problem and at one point the ball had to be cleared off the line.

Eventually the visitors got the ball away from goal but only as far as Harris who hooked the ball back into the danger area with his back to goal from the edge of the box and for a moment it looked like it might just drop in, but it cleared the bar and landed on the roof of the net.

The home side were largely in control at this point but survived a let off just before the hour mark when a long ball forward put a Tobermore attacker in on goal, but his first touch was poor and he ended up shooting well off target.

A set-piece seemed to be the way the game was going to be won and Distillery came close again in the 63rd minute when yet another corner was met by the head of Reid, but Bednarz did very well to push the powerful effort onto the bar to deny the Whites again.

With just less then 25 minutes to go the home sides chances of finding a winner were dealt a blow, a cross came into the box and Justin Grattan appeared to be pushed to the ground by a visiting defender but despite appeals for a penalty the referee was unmoved.

Conlon attempted to pounce on the loose ball, but Bednarz beat him to it.

As the players cleared the box there was an altercation between O’Hanlon and the referee, perhaps regarding the penalty appeal, and the Whites player was shown a yellow card. O’Hanlon continued to argue his point only for the referee to show him a second yellow and reduce the Whites to ten men for the remainder of the game.

Despite the man advantage Tobermore did not seem to want to commit too many men forward and were perhaps content to pick up a point on the road.

It was still Distillery who looked more like scoring and after 68 minutes Christian Irvine tried his luck from range and with Bednarz rooted to the spot it looked for a moment like the ball was going to nestle in the top corner, but it whizzed just past the goalkeeper’s right hand post.

With just less than 20 minutes left on the clock the visiting goalkeeper was called into action again to make a fine save from a Withers effort that also looked like it was heading for the top corner.

The Whites continued to push to break the deadlock but unfortunately it was not meant to be and the referee eventually called time.

A frustrating day for the Whites who would have hoped a win on Saturday could move them further up the table, the only real positives being another clean sheet and at least another point on the board.

Full-time: Distillery 0-0 Tobermore

Lisburn Distillery: Nicholl, Dillon, Clarke, Irvine, Reid, Grattan, O’Hanlon, Harris (captain), Jackson, Withers and Conlon.

Lisburn Distillery substitutes: Pollock, Brannigan (for Jackson, 80 minutes), Conan McAuley (for Grattan, 84 minutes) and Caoelain Young (for Conlon, 69 minutes).