Super Scollay salutes Newington's 'greatest moment' as Linfield Swifts fall short in Steel and Sons final
Linfield Swifts 0-1 Newington
Newngton winger Padraig Scollay says his winning goal in the Steel and Sons Cup final is his greatest footballing achievement and the greatest moment in the club's history.
Scollay's 82nd minute strike at Seaview handed Premier Intermediate League Newington a 1-0 win over Linfield Swifts on Christmas Day to take the title in their first ever final appearance and prevent the Swifts from defending their crown.
It wasn't exactly a Christmas cracker, with chances for both sides rare, but that didn't matter for Newington hero Scollay, who was delighted to make history for the north Belfast club.
"Our manager Conor Crossan had a plan and it worked a treat. We're used to playing two up front or the wide men up the pitch, but Conor said let's compact it and stop them playing, and you could see they started running out of ideas," Scollay said.
"In the week leading up to the game a lot of people were writing us off but that just spurred us on, and you saw how close we are as a team and it worked out for us.
"It's the greatest moment in the club's history and the greatest moment in my footballing career."
For a game with a trophy on the line it was a turgid affair, due in part to the drizzling rain and neither side's willingness to commit men forward.
Ryan Strain tested Dean Smyth with a free kick for the Swifts, while Stephen Doyle and Peter Gilgunn both shot over the bar for Newington around the quarter hour mark.
The first real clear cut chance came midway through the half, and it fell to the Seaview side and to Doyle, who was put in behind by Gilgunn on the edge of the box but he only found the side netting having been forced too wide.
Only an acrobatic save from Alex Moore in the Swifts goal and a block from Reece Neale on a Conall Burns shot kept Newington scoreless at the break as the Blues struggled to impose themselves on the game.
But they should have led at half time as the best chance of the first half fell to Caomhan McGuinness, the centre-back beating Smyth to Matty Lynch's free kick only to see his header fly over the bar.
If the first half was a slog, the second half wasn't much better. Strain was again the danger for the Blues, taking the ball down the wing and firing low at Smyth, but chances were few and far between.
Indeed, it took until the late stages for things to really kick into gear once more, and the Swifts should have taken the lead again as subs Timmy Browne and Chris Murray linked up.
The former centred for the unmarked latter, only for Murray to miscontrol the ball and fail to get his shot off, before Eamon Scannell whistled a half volley just wide from outside the box.
But with eight minutes left, Newington struck. A long throw into the box was only half cleared to Scollay at the back post, and he finished with a neat low strike into the bottom corner.
There was still time for the Swifts, and their best chance dropped again to Murray in injury time, but his shot was excellently blocked by a sliding Kevin O'Neill.
Even with Moore thrown up front for a late corner the Blues couldn't find the equaliser, and the final whistle sparked mass celebrations from the Newington support.
"We're a far better side than that. Today we were at 50% of what we're normally at," complained Swifts boss Davy Dorrian.
"I'm bitterly disappointed, but Newington deserved to win the game today. We'll take it on the chin and move on."
LINFIELD SWIFTS: Moore; McComb (Weatherup, 86 mins), McGuinness, O'Hare, Neale; Carroll, Lynch, Harrison, Truesdale (Browne, 50 mins); Strain (Murray, 65 mins), Scannell.
Subs not used: Gemmell, Pengelly.
NEWINGTON: Smyth; McFall, O'Moore, Gowdy, B O'Neill; Burns, O'Donnell, Gilgunn (K O'Neill, 86 mins), Niblock, Scollay (Morrison, 90 mins); Doyle (Rafferty, 81 mins).
Subs not used: Begley, Hanvey.
Man of the match: Padraig Scollay (Newington)
Match rating: 4/10
Referee: Iain Banks (Carrickfergus)