Cockhill Celtic, last season’s double winners – indeed, the double winners six seasons in a row now – came from behind to overcome Derry City Reserves in the Donegal News USL League Cup this evening.
Cockhill Celtic 2 Derry City Reserves 1
It was the visitors who started the brighter of the two sides and they had the home side well pinned back for the first 15 minutes.
Cockhill handed a debut to goalkeeper Jason McCallion and the young netminder was alert to the first chance on 16 minutes when he got down well at his near post to gather a dangerous free from Kieran Farren on the left corner of the area.
The visitors opened the scoring on 30 minutes when Devine and McBride combined well on the right for the ball to find its way to Cathal Farren inside the area and the young number nine made no mistake from 10 yards.
Cockhill did have loud appeals for off-side but the referee awarded the goal with no flag from his assistant.
The home side bounced back within two minutes as Mark Moran got on the end of a cross field pass from Gerry Gill to swing in a deep cross from the right and as the Derry ‘keeper Gartside challanged for the ball it was Cockhills new signing Denim McLaughlin who got the final touch and the ball rested in the empty net much to the delight of his teammates
The game was end to end but derry looked the more dangerous and only for a few stray passes in the final third the Candystripes should have added to their score.
Cockhill seemed to be rushing each and every time they had possession and the ball was turned over on numerous occasions.
The second goal for Cockhill arrived on 42 minutes when Gerry Gill curled home a delightful free from the edge of the area after Mark Moran was brought down by Gormley.
Derry had the final chance of the first period but Farren’s free went wide of McCallions right hand post
Derry pushed the home side back again early in the second period but found the home defence on top with Breslin and Doherty superb throughout the 90 minutes.
The game turned into a midfield scrap for a period in the second half with both sides guilty of giving up possession all to easy and forcing the pass when the simple thing would be to keep possession.
On 75 minutes Derry were awarded a free 25 yards from goal, Farren stepped up to strike a fierce shot that forced a brilliant diving save from McCallion that he pushed away for a corner.
Cockhill had a great chance on 80 minutes to put the game safe but after substitute Nash broke away he made his way into the box but rather than cross to the unmarked McLaughlin for an easy tap in he saw the hedlines and went for the shot that was beat away by Gartside and cleared by Tweed.
Cockhill managed the last ten minutes well under a siege of pressure to claim a valuable three points in a group that saw the game between Finn Harps Reserves and Letterkenny Rovers postponed
Cockhill Celtic:Jason McCallion, Conor McNamee, Lee McColgan, Peter Doherty, Jason Breslin, Denim McLaughlin, James Bradley, Gerry Gill, Gerard McLaughlin, Brendan McLaughlin, Mark Moran. Subs: Daniel Doherty for D.McLaughlin (61), Aaron Nash for G.McLaughlin (70), Daniel Martin Doherty for Moran (71), Paul McDermott for McNamee (88).
Derry City Reserves: Nathan Gartside, Rhys McDermott, Fionn McClure, Connor Gormley, Kieran Farren, Evan Tweed, Jack Malone, Darren Armstrong, Sean McBride, Cathal Farren, Dylan Devine. Sub: Mikey Friel for Armstrong (53).