Wakehurst continue fine form with five-goal haul

WAKEHURST’S recent good form continued against Sport & Leisure Swifts at Glen Road, Belfast at the weekend, with an emphatic but hard earned victory over a stubborn home team.

There was nothing between the sides in the opening 20minutes, with Conor Gregg going close for Wakehurst on a couple of occasions and Darren Gallaher having similar efforts just off target at the other end.

The home side were gradually gaining the upper hand and Marc Maybin had to be alert to the procession of through balls played into the penalty area, sprinting to the edge of the box to clear from O’Neill and Gallaher in quick succession. He was finally beaten by Gallaher on 27 minutes, the big striker using his strength and speed to shake off the attention of Culbertson, before shooting past Maybin at the near post.

Wakehurst just couldn’t get any fluency to their game. Too often the front pair of Jason Paul and Conor Gregg were left isolated with the result that the home defence were comfortably in control and the one goal still separated the sides at the break.

Whatever was said in the Wakehurst Changing Room at half-time certainly had the desired effect and they were immediately on the offensive, pinning the home side in their own half from the whistle.

And just 4 minutes into the second half Sport & Leisure Swifts were reduced to ten men, Pierce Tully receiving his marching orders following a rash tackle on Ryan Gregg. Wakehurst drew level after 55 minutes, Conor Gregg using all his pace and skill to unsettle the home defence and after having two efforts repelled by keeper Damien Nugeit, the ball broke to Ryan Gregg whose shot was turned in by the impressive Paul. 5 minutes later Wakehurst went in front.

Paul robbed Declan Russel of the ball on the left and raced into the penalty box before rolling the ball into Andy Loughlin’s path. The young midfielder’s mishit shot broke kindly to the equally youthful Ryan Young and he danced past two central defenders to pick his spot. A third quickly followed as the home side struggled to overcome the loss of Tully. Paul again was the player doing the damage as he burst through on the right past both McErlean and Largey inside the box before Largey brought him down. Conor Gregg dispatched the penalty in his usual clinical fashion.

The home team plundered a second goal on 71 minutes, Daly heading in at the back post from a well placed corner, but Culbertson and Stevenson were generally in charge at the centre of the Wakehurst defence during this second period.

Lee Mc Caughern replaced Andy Loughlin at this juncture and quickly made his presence felt with a series of well delivered passes putting Sport & Leisure Swifts on the back foot again.

Wave after wave of Wakehurst attacks were opening up the home rearguard and when Conor Gregg set up Young to finish well on 83 minutes, the game was as good as over, but not before McCaughern first rattled the upright with a strong shot, then crashed in Wakehurst’s fifth in the 88th minute, benefitting again from Paul’s good

The home side found themselves down to 9 men for the final minutes, Daly’s frustration earning him a red card. Even though there were 4 bookings and 2 sendings-off during the game, this was never a ‘dirty’ match, probably spoiled by over zealous officiating.

Nevertheless a third win on the trot for Wakehurst, lifting them up the league table and looking for a fourth win against high flying Armagh City at Mill Meadow next Saturday, October 27, kick-off 3.00pm.

TEAM: M Maybin, R Culbertson, D Stevenson, D Gage, R Young, S Mellon, A Laughlin, R Gregg, J Paul, C Gregg.

SUBS: L McCaughern, P Alexander, C Warren, D Paul, S McIlroy.