Bangor YM fight back against gutsy Colin Valley to keep Junior Shield journey on track
Toals Junior Shield first round - Bangor YM 4 Colin Valley II 3
Bangor YM manager Alan Finlay may not have been overjoyed at his side’s narrow Junior Shield first round win over Colin Valley II on Saturday, but he was at least pleased with the fight they showed to make sure they progressed to the next round.
The Sportsplex men had to overhaul a two-goal half time deficit to topple their spirited reserve league opponents in an entertaining encounter full of endeavour from both teams.
And while Colin Valley are more accustomed to battling it out with Bangor YM II in Division 3C of the Amateur League, Finlay was impressed with how the visitors coped with his 2B first team.
“Credit to Colin Valley,” he remarked. “They have a great reputation in football, and from their performance today, you get an idea of why their firsts are flying.
“From our point of view, we started well, then we went to sleep. We have a terrible habit of taking teams lightly at times, but in the end, we were just the fitter side.
“I didn’t think we played particularly well, but at the same time, I was never really worried, as I knew what we had in the tank.”
A bright opening from Bangor saw them dominate possession and chances, with a Glen Bailie shot parried away by Jamie McAuley, while the Valley keeper was also required to smother a teasing ball into the box from Mikey Graham ahead of Michael Lemon, and deflect a Graham effort into the side-netting.
At the other end, Michael Chalmers punched out a Declan Curran shot and when the striker collected to have a second bite of the cherry, the home keeper had re-gathered himself to keep out the scuffed attempt.
Things weren’t quite so watertight in the Valley area in the 18th minute, however, when an unmarked Glen Greer was allowed free rein to slot home from a Lemon corner.
On the balance of play, it was what Bangor deserved, and as a Christopher Daly corner on the half hour mark whizzed harmlessly over everyone in the box, and a Ryan Burns free kick was thumped into the wall, it seemed Valley would continue to waste what limited opportunities came their way.
Yet a fruitful 10 minute spell at the end of the first half turned that theory on its head.
It all began with a clever Burns ball over the top to Paul Murphy, who saw Chalmers come out to meet him, before chipping effortlessly passed him into the corner.
In the 38th minute, Steven Hyland ghosted through, and as the home defence disputed whether the offside trap had been breached, he happily tucked the ball away with ease to give his side the lead.
Then, with the final move of the half, Burns collected the ball from within the centre circle and proceeded to launch a terrific lob from all that distance, which Chalmers could only fingertip en route to the net. It was a brilliant piece of skill and imagination from the Valley attacker.
A impassioned half-time team talk seemed to do the trick for the home side, as they clawed a goal back in the 55th minute. A delightful Ben Murphy long ball was headed down by Graham to Greer who smashed it in from close range.
Bangor were turning up the heat on their opponents, and in the ensuing minutes saw a delicate Graham chip cleared near the goal-line and a Greer daisy-cutter skim just wide of the left post.
A crucial point in the game followed in the 63rd minute, as a moment of dissent saw the influential Burns receive his marching orders.
Meanwhile, within 10 more minutes, Bangor had levelled the score, with Graham rattling the crossbar from a Lemon corner, before Johnny McAllister was quickest to react with a sweet finish from inside the area.
The onus was now on Finlay’s men to complete the job inside the 90 minutes, and who more fitting to do so than Greer. The summer signing from Groomsport got his head to a superb forward pass from Lemon to complete his hat-trick in the 81st minute.
Perhaps Bangor will be annoyed they didn’t open up a greater advantage, with another Graham effort striking the upright, while the dismissal of Lemon in the 90th minute for a second booking may would have been a disappointment… but the bottom line is that they go into the hat for round two.
Nevertheless, Valley reserves gaffers Jimmy McCabe and Gerard Fennell were rightly encouraged with what they had seen.
“We were a bit concerned about how we would do against their first time, but in the end, we are delighted with that performance,” admitted Fennell.
McCabe added: “We showed plenty of quality today, and we have a lot of quality coming through the club. There’s a real buzz about the place at the minute, and today has been a good experience for our boys.”
MAN OF THE MATCH: Glen Greer (Bangor YM). Each goal of his hat-trick was the mark of an instinctive striker at the top of his game.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Ryan Burns’ goal from just over the halfway line was one for the scrapbook.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Michael Chalmers’ double save from Declan Curran, early in the first half.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: Despite a great individual performance, Burns’ sending off in the 63rd minute made his team’s task to hold onto their lead more difficult.
Michael Chalmers: Caught out on a couple of occasions. 6
Jamie McElrath: Effective at turning defence into attack. 7
Ben Murphy: Left little to chance. 7
James Reynor: A solid contribution. 7
Danny Frazer: Had a mixed first half. 6
John Sloan: Did the simple things well. 7
Michael Lemon: Really made his team tick. 8
Glen Greer: Scored at will. 9
Mikey Graham: Was unfortunate not to score. 8
Glen Bailie: A reasonable effort. 6
Johnny McAllister: Took his goal well. 7
Gareth Patterson: On for Graham, 92
Scott Hill: On for Frazer, 45
Philip Wilson: Not used
Colin Valley II
Jamie McAuley: A game of highs and lows. 6
Martin Short: Threw himself into every challenge. 7
David Cullen: Did a decent job of tidying at the back. 7
Christopher Daly: Not easily outmuscled off the ball. 7
Caoimhin Bell: Put in a fair shift. 6
Gerard Kelly: Full-blooded display. 7
Steven Hyland: Good passing and movement. 7
Patrick Gibson: Not afraid to get stuck in. 7
Declan Curran: Never stopped running. 7
Ryan Burns: A standout display, pity about his red card. 8
Paul Murphy: Always on the lookout for an opening. 7
Francis Harbinson: On for Curran, 74
James McCabe: Not used
Darren Ferguson: On for Cullen, 74