Soccer – CCFL U/17 League
Monksland United 0
PORTLAOISE made their second trip to Athlone in three weeks to face Monksland United. This time the venue was Cushla Park having played the previous game in Athlone Town Stadium.
The visitors made the journey with only 12 of their 19-man squad available but were determined it wouldn’t affect the outcome of the game. Monksland were suffering from a similar problem with some of their regulars unavailable too.
The game started very competitively with both sides snapping into tackles. Portlaoise looked the brightest with Desmond Peter and Kacper Honozo looking a threat up front.
Portlaoise were solid at the back with Duffin, McEvoy and O’Loughlin looking very strong and not willing to give anything away.
The away side were creating plenty of chances especially from the in-swinging corners of George Okpara and Danny Farrell.
It was a set piece that opened the scoring as Farrell whipped a beautiful free kick from 25 yards into the top corner despite the best efforts of the home keeper. Postage stamp stuff and a magnificent way to break the deadlock.
Farrell came close minutes later when a strike from distance was unbelievably tipped over the bar by the Monksland keeper, fantastic strike and brilliant save.
Portlaoise doubled the lead five minutes before half time when Eoin Duffin scrambled the ball over the line after another excellent George Okpara corner. Two nil and no more than Portlaoise deserved.
Portlaoise squandered a few more chances before the half time whistle brought the game to a halt.
Portlaoise started the second half really brightly with a flurry of chances to add a third in the first ten minutes. Unbelievably they failed to add a third to the dismay of coach John Farrell.
Hotneil Bemba had a lovely left footed strike ruled out by a late referees whistle, very unfortunate after a really nice finish.
Darragh Prendergast won a penalty with 20 minutes to go but unfortunately Farrell hit the post after having to retake the initial one due to encroachment by the keeper.
Portlaoise eventually added their third when Prendergast buried home from another Portlaoise corner, a well-deserved third for the visitors.
Monksland to their credit kept plugging away and would’ve gotten on the scoreboard were it not for a couple of excellent saves by Cathal Tierney in Portlaoise’s goal.
The game finished 3 nil and in no way flattered the visitors who were relentless in their hunt for goals even if they weren’t as clinical as they’d have liked to be.
A mention for the Monksland keeper who was unbelievable all game, keeping the score a lot lower than it could have been.
For Portlaoise, O’Loughlin was solid at the back along with Duffin. Okpara was excellent on the left all game and looked a constant threat while Hotneil Bemba was menace for the Monksland defence.
Man of the match, without a doubt, goes to Danny Farrell who was involved in everything positive for Portlaoise. His set pieces were a nightmare for the home defence and his all-round work rate and attitude were great to see.
Portlaoise know that one win from their last three games will see them crowned league winners. Huge incentive for the whole squad.
PORTLAOISE SQUAD: Cathal Tierney, Oran McEvoy, Eoin Duffin, Craig O’Loughlin, Corey McGuirk, George Okpara, Danny Farrell, Darragh Prendergast, Dylan Brown, Desmond Peter, Kacper Honozo, Hotneil Bemba.