Tuesday, January 31, 2023

MLS U/15

Ben Peacham opens the scoring with a volley from outside the box

Portlaoise Town      7

Walsh Island            1

PORTLAOISE Town U/15s faced Walsh Island in the MSL on Saturday. This was the first meeting of these two teams this season and with last season’s two games finishing in hotly contested draws, both teams were fired up for the game, looking to for three points and bragging rights.

The match started at a fast pace with both teams pushing to gain the early advantage on the Portlaoise Leisure Centre pitch. It was Portlaoise captain Ben Peacham who broke the deadlock just four minutes in with a well taken first time volley from just outside the box. This settled Portlaoise and they grew more and more into the game with chances for Glenn Johnston and Jack Phelan going agonisingly close.

The game continued in that vein with Jack Rock working hard as the lone Portlaoise striker tirelessly pressurising the Walsh Island defence.

On 15 minutes Walsh Island struck with a well work counterattack breaking the Portlaoise high line defence. A nicely played ball set their No. 10 free to round onrushing Portlaoise keeper Ben Malone making it 1-1.

From the resulting tip off the Portlaoise boys pushed hard to regain their lead and their hard work was rewarded on 17 minutes with Jack Phelan firing home from a well taken Ben Peacham free kick.

Portlaoise continued to apply pressure with Ross Dunne and Max Ryan really starting take control of the midfield area. On 19 minutes Portlaoise scored again, this time a well weighted ball from Peacham in midfield was met by on running winger Glenn Johnston who hammered home past the Walsh Island keeper.

The Portlaoise boys mindful never to sit back on a lead continued to apply the pressure, with wingers Johnston and Phelan continuously using the width of pitch to run at the Walsh Island defenders. Both went close a number of occasions and on 23 minutes it was Johnson again with a well worked move from the left wing and rifling home to make it 4-1.

As the first half drew to close the Walsh Island boys continued to work hard and might have been reward for their effort on two occasions if not for hard work and discipline of the Portlaoise back line of Brian Mullin, Óisín Duffin, Maks Dziewonski and Rocco (The Rock) O’Reilly.

In the second half Walsh Island started strongly and were perhaps unlucky not to have been reward for their efforts but Portlaoise keeper Ben Malone was alive to any possible danger and marshalled his area with great affect.

Ten minutes into the second half Portlaoise started to utilise the strength and depth off the bench with Robert Roe replacing Rocco O’Reilly in defence and Gary Brennan for the hard-working Jack Rock up front. The infusion of fresh legs saw the Portlaoise boys start to gain the upper hand again with Brennan, Johnston and Phelan going close numerous times.

With 20minutes left to play and the sense that Portlaoise wanted to push on they cleared the bench with the introduction of Dee Harding and Cormac Walsh in defence and Gunes Bingol on for Ross Dunne in midfield. The introduction of Bingol gave Peacham and Ryan licence to get forward and pile the pressure on the Walsh Island defence. This pressure soon paid off with Jack Phelan playing the ball through for Gary Brennan to riffle home Portlaoise’s 5th of the afternoon.

Jack Phelan continued to terrorise the Walsh Island defence from the right wing and was rewarded for his efforts as he rounded two defenders and calmly chipped the keeper for the ball to nestle in the far top corner.

The afternoon was polished off with five minutes remaining when the industrious Glenn Johnston made another darting run down the left wing and cut the ball back to Ben Peacham to smash home from the edge of the box. 7-1 Portlaoise.

Coaches Player of the Match: Jack Phelan. Phelan’s tireless work rate in attack and in defence was rewarded, contributing with two goals, one assist and constantly tracking back to help in defence is why Jack is our choice for Player of the match.

A special thank you to John and Caroline of Hume Auctioneers Portlaoise for their continued support of the team – jersey sponsors and match day photography.

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