JOE MCCARRON’S 95th minute equaliser earned Orchard FC a point to keep alive their title hopes this afternoon.
Orchard FC 2 Arranmore United 2
However, with a two-point lead and all four of their remaining games at home the result has to be seen as another step towards the silverware for the League leaders, Arranmore (pictured above).
The opening half produced very little in terms of goalmouth action at either end, Arranmore showing why they had conceded only six goals in their previous nine league with some solid defending.
Orchard’s Niall Bonner had a snap shot blocked in the 22nd minute and Joe McCarron saw his well struck free-kick comfortably held by John Greene in the 45th minute while Arranmore’s Gavin Mc Glanaghey and Ruan Reynolds both saw efforts blocked out late in the half to leave it scoreless at the break.
The second-half was a much livelier affair as both sides upped the tempo to good effect.
A minute in Gavin McGlanaghey drove in a low dangerous cross which his brother Chris just failed to convert from six yards.
In the 50th minute Orchard skipper Gio People’s well struck free-kick was deflected out for a corner, and two minutes later Arranmore were almost in when Thomas McLaughlin fumbled Declan Proctor’s free-kick
In the 55th minute Orchard were denied twice in quick succession, firstly Danny Rodgers denied Peoples with a Brillant clearance when the former’s super lob seemed certain to give them the lead and from the resulting corner Redmond Doherty’s piledriver was inches off target.
As so often happens, a goal did finally arrive but at the other end as Arranmore grabbed the lead with a super finish by Gavin McGlanaghey.
Chris McGlanaghey provided the opportunity with some good play down the right side but Gavin still had plenty to do when the cross came in, his Brillant first touch gave him a little space and he drilled the ball to the roof of the net.
Orchard responded well, Gio Peoples free-kick was blocked, JP Doran’s 25 yarder was tipped round the post by Greene and Danny Rodgers just got his head to a dangerous cross from the right a minute later.
However in the 74th minute Orchard were level. John Boyle had just been sprung from the bench and his low cross was cut out at the near post by a kneeling Rodgers, but referee Marty Quinn adjudged he had used his arm and awarded a penalty which was confidently drilled home by Micheál Doherty.
However, Orchard ‘s joy was short-lived as Arranmore regained the lead just three minutes later.
Conor Proctor’s excellent through ball gave Gavin McGlanaghey a chance but again he had plenty to do.
The striker rounded the advancing McLaughlin and from the narrowest of angles somehow steered the ball into the far corner of the net.
Orchard were again under pressure to get something from this vital game and the again responded well with a succession of attacks.
McCarron, Micheál Doherty and Rory O’Gorman with a header all went close and just when it looked as if their best efforts would be in vain the snatched a dramatic equaliser in the 95th minute.
Arranmore had several chances to clear the danger but failed to do so and were made to pay when McCarron got his head to the ball and watched as it just about lobbed everyone and dropped into the corner of the net.
The result means no change at the top of the table with unbeaten leaders Arranmore two points clear of Orchard with a game less played and a further gap to the chasing pack.
These two are due to meet in the final round of league games out on the island, Orchard will be hoping that will be title decider but with three home games to come before that Arranmore will be keen to ensure that the result of that game wont matter.
Orchard FC: Thomas McLaughlin; JP Doran, Gerard Roulston, Rory O’Gorman, Redmond Doherty; Sean Sweeney, Gio Peoples, Joe McCarron, Charlie Creevy; Niall Bonner, Micheál Doherty. Subs: Jerome Burke for Bonner (67), John Boyle for Creevy (72), Andrew Doherty for Roulston (85).
Arranmore United: John Greene; Phil Boyle, Michael McHugh, Feanie Early, Danny Rodgers; Chris McGlanaghey, Sean O’Hara, Conor Proctor, Declan Proctor; Ryan Reynolds, Gavin McGlanaghey. Subs: Jason O’Donnell for O’Hara (half-time), Przemek Tursk for Early (78), Paul Early for C.Proctor (90).Tags: