The end result doesn’t quite tell the tale on a strange sort of an evening as Lifford Celtic moved back into contention in Division 1 of the Donegal League with a fine win at Ballybofey United.
Ballybofey United 1 Lifford Celtic 4
By Chris McNulty at the Finn Valley Centre
A pair of Brian Breslin penalties and goals by Kevin Lynch and Jonny Robb gave Lifford a win that brings them to within two points off leaders Bonagee – who play away to Drumkeen tomorrow.
Just two points separate the top five in the Division now and the margins were thin at the Finn Valley Centre for long spells.
A madcap Ballybofey goal brought the hosts into the game just before half-time, but Lifford were able to absorb the Ballybofey pressure in the second half.
It was a night when both teams finished without their goalkeepers.
Shaun McBrearty, the Lifford stopper, injured himself in making a stunning save to prevent Jude Patton, a Lifford native, from drawing Ballybofey level. McBrearty soldiered on for a few minutes before having to be withdrawn.
In a hectic ending, Chris Patton, Ballybofey’s netminer, was sent off having pulled Robb down in the incident that led to Breslin’s second penalty in the 89th minute. Breslin tucked past stand-in ‘keeper Gavin Doherty.
With the last action of the night, Robb superbly finished to the bottom corner from the edge of the box after taking receipt of a ball in from the left.
Lifford began brightly with Breslin having a low shot blocked before a cracking attempt by Daniel Lynday, the Lifford left-back, came off the crossbar.
Ballybofey midfielder Niall McCluskey fired two free kicks at McBrearty and it was Lifford who hit the front.
Breslin, having been fed by Robb, weaved his way into the danger zone and Lynch made no mistake in slotting past Patton.
Just two minutes later, they doubled the lead. Robb went to ground as Patton advanced and it was certainly a questionable decision to award the spot kick. Breslin stepped up and Lifford were on their way.
Ballybofey got a lifeline in remarkable circumstances just before the break. Damien Glackin’s header was just too high and cannoned off the goal-frame. The ball appeared to rebound back off the part of the frame connecting the crossbar to the back stanchion.
Lifford player-manager Kevin McBrearty nodded the ball into the net and the goal given, much to the chagrin of those in the green and white.
Breslin, excellent for Lifford on the right flank, riffled into the side-netting and shot narrowly wide of the far post before Ballybofey hit back with a dominant spell of their own.
They should have been level when Glackin came out of a one-v-one with Shaun McBrearty with the ball and rounded the ‘keeper only to hesitate. That moment enabled Lyndsay to get back and clear.
Conor Doherty saw an effort blocked before Shaun McBrearty saved wonderfully from Patton, who’d been teed up by Glackin’s header back across goal.
Kevin McBrearty marshalled his rearguard brilliantly during a spell when they were under the cosh and, though the end scoreline was a little lopsided, Lifford were deserving winners on the night.
Ballybofey United: Chris Patton, Michael Lafferty, Gavin Doherty, Ronan McMenamin, Shaun McGowan, Niall McCluskey, Ciaran McCauley, Conor Doherty, Damien Glackin, Jude Patton, Mark Griffin. Subs: Dan O’Brien for McCauley (64). Brian Lafferty for C.Doherty (77), Paul Duncan for Griffin (86).
Lifford Celtic: Shaun McBrearty, Kyle McCarron, Daniel Lyndsay, Paul Lynch, Kevin McBrearty, Mark Carlin, Brian Breslin, Kevin Lynch, Johnny Mahon, Johnny Robb, Corey Lyndsay. Subs: Jack Mahon for Johnny Mahon (77), Jordan Nelson for S.McBrearty (82), Corey McGettigan for Carlin (82).
Referee: George Clinton.Tags: