Carson strikes a love match with Ballymena United
Ballymena United 1 Newry City 0: It's refreshing in these cynical days of football to come across a young player who appears to be genuinely in love with the game.
Rory Carson is one such player. Released by Bradford City during the summer it was the sort of kick in the teeth that could have brought even the hardest of men to their knees, never mind a fresh-faced lad from north Down whose looks belie his 19 years.
But he was the baby-faced assassin for Roy Walker on Saturday as Ballymena United got the better of Newry City thanks to Carson’s first goal for his new club, but the only thing he was armed with afterwards was a clutch of new training gear.
He’s certainly showing style on the pitch, popping up in the 71st minute to fire through a plethora of bodies and repeating the act twice afterwards only to be felled both times in the box.
Gary McCutcheon was the first man to be thwarted from 12 yards by the impressive Newry keeper Nathan Morley-Hillen and, in the dying seconds, the shot-stopper did likewise to deny Nathan Hanley.
McCutcheon is likely to resume penalty-taking responsibilities and Walker could do worse than turn to Carson, certainly an old football head on young shoulders, but he’s just concentrating on adjusting to life and football back at home.
“To begin with it was a bit of a culture shock but I’m getting settled in,” he admitted. “I’m back at college but living over in England and playing football is every boy’s dream, but it’s not a real life. Over the summer it’s been back to reality and I struggled a little bit for form in pre-season, but I’m getting my form.
“It’s everyone’s dream to play professional football but at the moment I’m just concentrating on doing well for Ballymena because it’s a great town with a great footballing history.
“There are a few lads in there who could play across the water but all we need to focus on is not getting our heads turned about playing in England but just focus on getting three points every Saturday and see how we can go for Ballymena.
“It’s a good start to the season, better than previous years from what I’ve been told, so long may it continue. These are the important games, the games against the Newrys and Dungannons — no disrespect to them.”
For Newry boss Gerry Flynn, though, another second-half capitulation from his team had him fuming.
“I thought we had the better chances in the first-half. The keeper made a fantastic save from Andy Graham and we said to the boys at half-time we were in this position last week and doing well but that gets you nothing, and it is something we’ve got to work on,” he said.
“If the players aren’t willing to do what we ask in the second-half then they’ll find themselves sitting on the bench or in the stand.”