St Pat's YM hit Holywood for six of the best
Holywood 0 St Pat's YM 6
When the great Jimmy Greaves famously remarked that football is “a funny old game,” he wasn’t kidding. St Pat’s YM may have crushed Holywood 6-0 in the Steel & Sons Cup third round on Saturday, yet it was the Holywood manager who appeared the less troubled at the final whistle.
The reason? Quite simply, after playing his part in helping to make St Pat’s one of the most feared clubs in the whole of the Amateur League, their boss Ciaran Smyth has come to expect nothing less than the very best from his players.
And, despite the one-sided nature of this victory, he felt his players had fallen some way short of those expectations.
“Without disrespecting Holywood, sometimes when we play a team a couple of leagues below us, we end up playing at their level,” reflected Smyth.
“Sometimes, we try to play too much football, and we get complacent. The thing is, I know we are much better than what we showed today.
“I know a lot of people say that pre-season matches don’t count, but we have only lost two games in 15 since the end of last season. We got a win against Carrick, we beat Queen’s 2-1 and we only lost 2-1 against Distillery, even though we played the last half hour with ten minutes.
“So we have shown we can cope with Championship level teams. In fairness, we might be another year off competing for the Steel & Sons Cup, but there’s no reason why we can’t give it a good go.”
Meanwhile, Holywood’s Dean Nelson was philosophical in his response to the whitewash.
The former Sirocco manager, who has admitted his club are in the midst of a major rebuilding process following a campaign where they came close to folding altogether due to dwindling player numbers, admitted: “You can see my boys are disappointed, but I told them not to beat themselves up. They will learn from this.
“The whole country knows how progressive and how good a side St Pat’s are. They have laid the foundations to get to where they are at the minute, and it’s where we want to be.”
When St Pat’s opened the scoring within the third minute, it already felt like the floodgates may open up. A quickly taken free kick from Sean McAuley sent Raymond Spotswood through to round the keeper and slot home with a tidy finish.
Part of Smyth’s visible frustration at his team came from the fact that they weren’t able to build on this lead sooner than they did. A James Moore header from Joe Thompson’s corner was steered just wide, before Holywood’s Stevie Horan was surprised to find himself unmarked in clear space, only to under-hit his shot on target.
Yet the visitors were having little more joy themselves at this stage. Some nice interplay between Thompson and Moore presented the latter with the ball inside the area, but he hit it straight at Brice Campbell in goal, while McCauley picked Moore out with a ball over the top, but the striker carelessly looped the ball well over.
Robert O’Neill looked as though he may double the lead on the half hour mark as he did the difficult part in skipping past Richard Patton’s challenge, but his low driven effort was well saved by Campbell, who got down quickly to deny him.
A call came from the away bench to stop treating the game “like a training match,” and to “start punishing” their opponents with more urgent play.
It seemed to do the trick. Moments later, in the 32nd minute, a spell of promising Holywood defensive work was undone by a moment’s carelessness, with Keith Mulvenna brought to ground inside the box by Jay Herron.
Moore was quick to volunteer his services, and with good reason, as he coolly dispatched the resultant spot kick neatly into the bottom corner.
Holywood had barely had time to recompose themselves when St Pat’s gave their advantage an even healthier complexion, - this time, Michael Murray catching Holywood on the counter, before crossing in to O’Neill who was unchallenged to head the ball over the line.
The home side had a rare moment of attacking threat , when Peter Cooling received the ball from Steven Andrews, but instead of shooting, sprayed to Johnny Maybin, who in turn shot straight at advancing keeper Paul Fisher.
St Pat’s contrasted this with a fine move which saw Murray thread through to Michael Smyth, who practically passed the ball into the bottom right corner.
The Division 1A men were now more than comfortable against their 1C counterparts, but the ambitious Smyth could be heard demanding more goals from his players during half time.
And they did have more goals in them – two in fact, O’Neill firstly coming out on-top in a one-on-one with the Holywood goalkeeper in the 78th minute to claim his second of the game, and then Moore doing likewise with his second successive penalty in injury time.
A harsh critic might join Smyth in thinking his team could have done even better, but, as the competition enters the last 16 stage, there aren’t many teams who will relish an encounter with them.
Brice Campbell: Despite conceding six, made some good saves. 5
Gareth McCausland: Tried to play his way out of trouble too often. 5
Richard Dunlop: Looked outpaced at times. 5
Richard Patton: A reasonable effort. 6
Jay Herron: Had a frustrating afternoon. 5
Ben McCadden: Pressed hard and set a good example. 7
Steven Andrews: Injected some positivity into his side on a tough day. 7
Stevie Horan: Did his best to drive team-mates on. 7
Johnny Maybin: Put in a decent shift. 6
Peter Cooling: Sometimes tried to do too much himself. 6
Matt Laurie: Not wanting in effort, but control could have been better. 6
Paddy Fitzsimmons: On for Cooling, 50
Aaron Harfield: On for Horan, 60
Rurie McGrillan: On for Dunlop, 69
St Pat’s YM
Paul Fisher: Did everything asked of him. 8
David Hughes: Usually was first to the ball. 7
Michael Murray: Alert and switched on. 7
Aidan Mulvenna: Committed to every tackle. 7
Keith Mulvenna: Didn’t allow opponents much time on the ball. 8
Sean McAuley: Unfortunate not to score. 7
Joe Thompson: An important cog in the St Pat’s machine. 8
Michael Smyth: Improved as the game went on. 7
James Moore: Ruthless from the spot with good positional sense. 8
Robert O’Neill: Claimed a brace for his endeavours. 8
Raymond Spotswood: Solid work-rate throughout. 7
Sean Moore: On for Smyth, 65
Christopher Black: On for Thompson, 65
Michael McVeigh: On for A Mulvenna, 60
Brendan Hamilton: Not used.
MAN OF THE MATCH: James Moore (St Pat’s YM). Constantly on the lookout for chances, and showed good finishing with his two penalties.
MOMENT OF THE MATCH: Raymond Spotswood’s third minute goal from Sean McAuley’s free kick fired a timely warning from St Pat’s.
SAVE OF THE MATCH: Robert O’Neill’s individual run on 30 minutes looked sure to end with a goal, but a fine stop from Brice Campbell denied him.
BLOOPER OF THE MATCH: The penalty conceded by Jay Herron in the 32nd minute was the moment Holywood’s hopes of springing an upset truly began to fade.
Belfast Telegraph Digital