Sports

Town edge closer to league title

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

WARRENPOINT Town edged closer to the Irish League Championship One title after picking up another three points against PSNI.

PSNI ...1
WARRENPOINT TOWN ...3

But at Newforge Lane on Saturday afternoon this was most certainly no vintage performance from the Town. Throughout the season there have been some sensational, skilful displays from the Seasiders but this was not one of them.

Although the visitors to Belfast tried hard on a good pitch, passes just weren't finding their targets and indeed the Police had more scoring opportunities and probably more possession.

Having said that goals win matches and the Town latched onto a couple of PSNI errors to clinically punish their rivals. And the most important thing wasn't the performance but the three points.

Manager Matthew Tipton wasn't pleased with the Town display as he said: "I tell them when they play well and I tell them when they don't. Plenty went wrong today but what went right was that we got the three points and we are now seven games away from the end of the season - and probably six points, or less, away from clinching the title.

Six will mathematically do it." Tipton continued: "So the positives to take from today's game. Stephen Murray's was a great score, Philly Donnelly's was a great score and I thought it was a great move leading up to the penalty. Outside those three goals there wasn't many positives.

The main thing is we won, got three points and the three goals were the be-all and end-all. It doesn't mean I'm happy. But now we're not too far from the end goal, which is winning the league title."

Stephen Murray replacing Aaron Traynor (off on holiday) was the only change from the team that lost to Dungannon in the Irish Cup. The Town began tentatively and it was 13 minutes before they had their first scoring opportunity, then Murray cutting the ball back from the left but the in-rushing Conor McMenamin mis-kicked in front of the target.

However, less than sixty seconds later Warrenpoint opened the scoring. Stephen Murray picked up a poor pass out of defence and from fully 25 yards brilliantly chipped the ball over the head of the PSNI keeper Jordan Williamson and into the roof of the net. It was a classy score but for most of the rest of the half the Town seemed off the pace with the home side creating the goal chances.

Joe McWilliams was just inches away from levelling with a low drive on 33 minutes while four minutes later Ashton McDermott was narrowly wide with a deflected header.

However, the visitors went in at the break two goals ahead. On 42 minutes Adam Wright hauled back Murray who was charging through on goal. The referee quite rightly awarded a penalty kick but the Police were incensed at this decision and protested long and hard. John McGuigan wasn't concerned over their protests and coolly drilled the spot kick low, past the keeper's right hand and into the net.

Two goals in front Warrenpoint looked to have the points sealed ... but nobody told the police. And they pressurised the Town defence for most of the second half. Then Jonathan Parr and his back four of Darren King, Jordan Dane, Stephen Moan and Dermot McVeigh earned their corn.

Darius Roohi hit the Warrenpoint post on 50 minutes while Parr needed to be at his best to tip away a James Wright drive on 64 minutes. Meanwhile the visitors were not really testing the home rearguard but they did so in style on 71 minutes.

And again it was another dreadful defensive error. Keeper Williamson's clearance landed at the feet Philly Donnelly who swiftly seized up the situation and with the net-minder well off his line the substitute rolled the ball into the net from 20 yards.

Game over. Or was it? On 84 minutes Jordan Dane fouled Roohi in the box with Ryan Berry drilling the resulting spot-kick high into the net, giving Parr no chance. And in the final minutes the PSNI tried to emulate Barcelona with lots of pressure and quite a few goal chances.

Mark McCullough headed inches past the post and indeed in the closing seconds the referee denied the Police another seemingly legitimate penalty claim. Still it was another three points secured and this Saturday Warrenpoint will hope to add three more when they take on Loughgall at Milltown.

Matthew Tipton said of next Saturday's game: "Today Loughgall lost 4-0 but they are a decent enough team. They won't want to be remembered as the team that Warrenpoint won the league against.

“That will be their only incentive next week as they can't really get any further up the table and they've got nothing else to play for. They'll not lay down and hand the title to Warrenpoint. So there will be a battle out there next week."

PSNI: Jordan Williamson, Mark McCullagh, Scott McCrory, Ashton McDermott, Adam Wright, Ryan Berry, Mark Anderson, James Wright, Darius Roohi, Paul McDowell, Joe McWilliams. Sub: Jonathan Courtney.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Johnny Parr, Darren King, Jordan Dane, Stephen Moan, Dermot McVeigh, Josh Lynch, Liam Bagnall, John McGuigan, Conor McMenamin, Ruairi Croskery, Stephen Murray. Subs: Philly Donnelly for McMenamin (35), Curtis Dempster for Croskery (63) and Liam McKenna for McVeigh (73).

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