Knockbreda breezes past Carrick in successive cups
Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup 3rd Round: Knockbreda 3 Carrick Rangers 1
Knockbreda mastered conditions at a blustery Breda Park to prove once again that they are a side to be taken seriously in this, their first season in Belfast Telegraph Championship One.
It was a second defeat of the campaign against Hugh Sinclair’s side for the Amber Army, who were on the receiving end of a 1-0 defeat against the same opposition in the League Cup, back in August.
Although the clubs have yet to do battle in the league, this result will give Knockbreda further belief and resolve approaching the second half of the season, not only as they already hold a four-point advantage over Rangers, but because it suggests they have the ability to go all the way in a competition that is dear to them.
After Saturday’s game, Sinclair remarked: “We managed to win this competition before we exited the Amateur League, and at the time, that was the biggest achievement this club had ever had. It was a very special memory for everyone involved.
“We are an Irish League club now and we have shown that we belong here. Our aim this season is to finish in the right half of the table, and hopefully we can go on a run in this competition too.
“I was disappointed when the players didn’t show any hunger after Bangor equalised against us in the Irish Cup last weekend, and we ended up losing, but today, they had their appetite back.
“I knew, watching the weather report last night that it was all going to be down to who managed the elements best. The directive was to be direct, and I felt we deserved our win in the end.”
Playing into the gusty gale, the home side had it all to do in the first half, and it was evident from the outset that the wind was going to play a starring role in this fixture.
An early clearance from goalkeeper Gareth Deane demonstrated as much when it took just one bounce before forcing Brian Nelson into a blush-sparing save.
Carrick were reasonably positive to begin with. Aaron Harmon’s goal-bound shot headed clear by the well-positioned Matt McManus, before a powerful Connor McCloskey drive skimmed past the right post.
Ryan Burns was proving hitting crossbars from the halfway line (in The Park website’s Crossbar Challenge – video online now) is not the only string to his bow, chipping a lovely weighted ball into the area, only to see it cut out by the quick-thinking Nelson. The lively striker was then denied again by the ‘Breda shot-stopper, as his long-range effort was expertly tipped over the bar.
Even with the wind against Knockbreda, set-pieces were still providing their best source of opportunity. A stinging 25-yard free kick from Miguel Chines in the 23rd minute produced a fine stop from Deane.
And when the hosts were given another dead-ball chance from a similar area two minutes later, it looked for all the world that Chines would try his luck again. However, the former Linfield man left it for James Wright, who duly obliged with a fantastic curling effort, which could only be helped into the top corner by the outstretched Deane.
At the other end, Damian Curran swung a free kick into the box but Richard Gibson was a little premature with his run and headed well over.
Deane prevented his side going even further behind on the half-hour mark, as his quick reflexes kept out a McManus header from James Wright’s corner.
Meanwhile, as a speculative Harmon attempt from 30 yards dipped narrowly too high, a Carrick supporter shouted – “that’s what we should have been doing all along”.
He had a point, and mindful of the uphill battle the second half would provide in the face of the wind, Carrick were relieved to net an equaliser with five minutes to go until the break. Gibson this time rising to head home from another superb Curran cross.
The second spell handed the weather advantage straight to Knockbreda, and they took only three minutes to capitalise. Paul Young was the provider, crossing in for Chines, who got the deftest of glancing headers to guide it past the sprawling goalkeeper.
With the odds now against them, Carrick appeared to be jolted into action with Harmon, McCloskey and in particular the mazy Burns, all carving out chance after chance, only a fool would have ruled out the possibility of another comeback.
The Carrick bench were left incensed when their claims for a penalty, following a Matthew Johnston challenge on McCloskey inside the box, were waved away in the 70th minute.
It just wasn’t meant to be for Gary Haveron and his visiting side, who suffered the further pain of a third Knockbreda strike in injury time. David Johnston inflicted the killer blow, with his shot from the edge of the box taking a wicked deflection en route to the roof of the net.
The Carrick boss admitted: “I don’t like losing any games – none of us do – but I’d rather lose that than drop any points against them in the league.
“We are not the sort of club to sit around feeling sorry for ourselves. We will regroup again this week and prepare for our league game against Lisburn Distillery on Saturday, and they know we need a response.”
Brian Nelson: Not a bad day at the office. 7
Matthew Johnston: Tidy and disciplined. 7
David Johnston: Thrust himself fully into every 50-50. 8
Michael McClean: Did a decent job of keeping Carrick at bay. 7
Matt McManus: Arguably the best at the back on a good defensive day for Breda. 8
Stephen Hislop: A strong, physical display. 8
Colum Curtis: Worked hard against the testing conditions. 7
James Wright: Pulled the strings in midfield and a threat from free kicks. 9
Miguel Chines: Dangerous on the ball and worked hard off it too. 8
Niall Atkinson: Got back to help soak up the early Carrick pressure. 7
Paul Young: Chased every ball down. Tenacious. 8
Gareth Corey: On for Curtis, 72
Johnny Bowers: On for Atkinson, 82
Gary Rafferty: Not used
Curtis Black: Not used
Connor Corry: On for Wright, 60
Gareth Deane: Carrick could have been worse off without his saves. 6
Aaron Smyth: Timely tackles were an asset. 7
Aidan O’Kane: Got forward well to provide support for the attack. 8
Dermot McVeigh: Not a performance to catch the eye. 6
Glenn Taggart: Held his own. 7
Ryan McCann: Could have shown more composure at times. 6
Aaron Harmon: Pacy and skilful. 7
Damian Curran – Useful from the odd set-piece. 7
Ryan Burns: A real bright spark. Always looked capable of making something happen. 9
Richard Gibson: Precision heading brought Carrick back into this game, albeit temporarily. 7
Connor McCloskey: Showed good range with his passing. 7
Ciaran Donaghy: Not used
David Bell: Not used
Anthony Lagan: On for Gibson, 45
Nathan McConnell: On for Curran, 78
MAN OF THE MATCH: Ryan Burns (Carrick Rangers). It’s almost unheard of to give this to a player on the losing team, but that underlines just how special this performance was. One to watch.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: James Wright’s 25th minute free kick was not only well taken, but, into the wind, it also set the tone for the rest of the match.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Brian Nelson’s finger-tip save from Ryan Burns early in the game was definitely one for the cameras.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: There were no glaring errors in this game... a major surprise, given that the weather conditions were so conducive to slip-ups.
Belfast Telegraph Digital