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Barcroft close in on title

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Barcroft close in on title thumbnail KEVIN Marks strikes a good free-kick for Barcroft against Haldane Fishers.

BARCROFT moved one step closer to the Division One title after the Newry estate side defeated Haldane on Saturday afternoon and in the process moved four points clear at the summit of the league table.

Barcroft ...3
Haldane Fisher ...1

This was by no means a vintage performance from the First Division pacesetters, but they did enough to grind out the win against a Haldane Fisher side, who were forced to play the entirety of the second half with ten men, after Gavin McNally was given his marching orders in the closing stages of the opening 45 minutes.

Barcroft began this match at a high tempo, immediately putting their opponents on the back foot. Kevin Marks and Connor Carroll were orchestrating the attacks from the heart of the midfield, but the Haldane Fisher defence was thwarting everything Barcroft had to throw at them.

The league leaders eventually made the breakthrough on the half four mark, when a long range left footed drive from Marks crept under the outstretched arm of Haldane 'keeper Johnny Irwin, who will have been disappointed not to have saved it.

Minutes later, goal scorer Marks turned provider, slipping the ball through to the strong running TJ Hughes, but he was denied by a terrific reflex save from Irwin, who atoned for conceding the opening goal.

Haldane Fisher had to wait until the 37th minute of the game for their first clear cut opportunity of the afternoon. A pin point free-kick from Gavin McNally was met by the unmarked Stephen Bradley, but his towering header failed to find the target.

In the final minute of the first half, Haldane's task of getting something from this game was dealt a further blow when they were reduced to ten men, after Gavin McNally was shown a straight red card by referee Rodney Kimbley for an off the ball altercation with a Barcroft player.

Barcroft, now buoyed by their one-man advantage, began the second half the brighter of the two teams. But ironically, against the run of play, Haldane levelled the match six minutes into the restart with a stunning individual effort from ex-Bessbrook United player Stephen Bradley - who burst forward from his own half, skipping past the challenges of three Barcroft defenders, before coolly slotting the ball past the advancing Paudie Carville.

Stung by this setback, Barcroft were now throwing all of their energies into attack, and in the 61st minute the pressure paid off. The lively Eamon Daly picked up a perfectly executed through ball from Lee Hutchinson, and fired his shot into the far corner of the net, giving Irwin absolutely no chance.

Barcroft never really looked like surrendering their lead, although with just one goal separating the sides, the estate side couldn't afford any complacency. Indeed, they dispelled any hopes of a Haldane comeback, wrapping up the scoring in the 80th minute with a strike from veteran forward Barry Harte, following good work from the dynamic Johnny McAnulty.

The result leaves Barcroft nicely perched at the top of the Division One league table, four points clear of nearest challengers Kilkeel Athletic, and five ahead of third placed Rockview United - although both Kilkeel and Rockview have four league games left to play, while Barcroft just have three. It's still anybody's guess as to who will win the title, but at the moment it's certainly advantage Barcroft.

BARCROFT: Paudie Carville, Ryan Johnston, Shea Concannon, Dylan Devlin, Barry McCoy, Connor Carroll, TJ Hughes, Kevin Marks, Barney Preece, Lee Hutchinson, Eamon Daly. Subs: Johnny McAnulty, Ruairi McLoughlin, Barry Harte, Keith Galbraith.

HALDANE FISHER: Johnny Irwin, David Casey, Robbie Little, Stephen Bradley, Cathal Murphy, Paul Blair, Gavin Martin, Mark Turley, Conor McKeown, David Henry, Robbie Philpott. Subs: Paudi McDonnell, Chris Smyth, Nathan Morgan, Shay Carroll, James Graham.

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