Blessington FC continued their unbeaten start to the season in the U11 Willie Madden League Cup with a hard fought win against Granada A on Saturday.
A goal from Cian Doyle in the dying minutes and an outstanding triple save moments later from Blessington goalkeeper Paddy Brady ensuring all three points stayed with the home side.
Blessington started brightly and got into the ascendency with some early efforts and almost took the lead with a powerful shot from Sam Gallagher following a neat move involving Ryan Mahon and Edward Carter but the Granada goal keeper made a tremendous save.
Ryan Mahon was the busiest Blessington defender but was confidently dealing with the pacy Granada forward and again it was his interception which lead to Blessington’s opening goal. His pass down the line was collected by Folu Ilori and his cut back found Shane Sargent who hit a cracking volley from all of twenty yards that rattled the crossbar before nestling in the back of the net.
As the half wore on Blessington started to grow into the game and Eni Ilori was inches wide from stretching Blessington’s lead with a trademark left foot strike.
This was the fifth meeting between these teams in their young history and Blessington had never collected all three points and just before half time Granada showed why. A lovely turn by their classy No # 6 caught out the Blessington defence and released their No #9 who outpaced the defence and coolly rounded Brady in goal to equalise. 1-1 at halftime and it was a fair reflection of the efforts by both teams.
After the break, Granada picked up where they left off and caught Blessington cold with another well worked goal. Their industrious No #5 who was now starting to pull the strings clipped a hopeful board forward that should have been dealt with by Blessington. The ball was collected by the Granada No #9 and his turn allowed him to play a lovely pass to his partner upfront who finished the move with a sweet volley.
But Blessington are no strangers to doing things the hard way and poured forward in response with Aidan Murphy and Folu Ilori leading by example, as they encouraged their team forward in search of the equaliser. The game was becoming more stretched and the change in intensity was evident as more chances at both ends were created. Paddy Brady the busiest of the two keepers and only a headed goal line clearance from Edward Carter kept the game within reach for Blessington.
The equaliser was fashioned by some excellent work by Sam Gallagher and Shane Sargent who was now tirelessly working in midfield and his beautifully weighted pass found Eni Ilori who carried the ball around the full back and on towards goal, however the Granada keeper handled the ball outside his area. The Blessington players had some discussion over who should take it and Edward Carter stepped up. The ball was only three yards in from the end-line and just outside the penalty area but Edward scooped the ball over the wall and fully outstretched hand of the honest Granada keeper. It was wonderful piece of skill. 2-2!
There was two more pieces of drama for the lucky supporters. The final goal came from a corner fashioned by substitute Adam Walsh whose introduction earlier in the game had added impetus to Blessington’s forward play in the final third.
Granada pulled everyone back to defend their position and Cian Doyle now free of defensive duties ran forward from outside the box and powered an unstoppable header into the top corner to give Blessington the lead with three minutes remaining.
However Granada weren’t going to make the long trip back home empty handed and made every effort in the dying minutes to get something from the game. Only three outstanding consecutive reflex saves from Paddy Brady denied them the final one the best of the three as he clawed the ball away whilst lying on the ground much to the amazement of both teams and supporters. At the final whistle Blessington players sought out Cian and Paddy whose telling contributions gave their team a first win over Granada A.
The Granada players and coach as always courteous and sporting shook hands and congratulated all the players after a great game.
Paddy Brady, Cian Doyle, Ryan Mahon, Aidan Murphy, Edward Carter, Sam Gallagher, Eni Ilori, Shane Sargent, Folu Ilori, Adam Walsh.
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