Sunday 3rd February

U14 Division 5

Lakewood Athletic A 2 Avondale United A

With the manager absent, it was up to assistant managers Denis O’Sullivan and Andrew Keane to try and maintain this Lakewood teams unbeaten league run from September last year. However, this giant, much improved Avondale team have recently disposed of a few title contenders. A guest reporter was pitch side to capture the ensuing battle:

The battling spirit that has defined this squad all season was evident again on Sunday morning when they came back from a goal down twice to salvage a point against an impressive Avondale side. Having lost to Lakewood in the league last October, Avondale arrived with a point to prove and showed their intentions from the first whistle, playing three up front and putting the Lakewood defence under immediate pressure. Within minutes, the ball was heading for the top right corner of the Lakewood net, but Tareq Ibrahiam went full stretch to his left to pull off a wondersave with his right-hand before the ball was cleared. However Avondale were not going to be denied as they captured the ball on the edge of the area and scored.

Lakewood regrouped and set about their business, with Tadgh Tuathaig, Kerry William and Daniel McCarthy covering acres of ground in the hunt for an equaliser. Daniel was moved up front and Owen Beamish was subbed on, to play on the left wing, and things began to happen for Lakewood. About 15-minutes in, a great assist from Jack Brady played Daniel in, and he made no mistake to score Lakewood’s opener and the equaliser.

Avondale upped the tempo and mounted wave after wave of attacks, with the defenders, Darragh O’Regan, Diarmuid O’Keeffe, Adam English and Jack O’Sullivan, under pressure. The midfield, including Oscar Rickard and Tadgh dropped back to help, with Kerry’s pace saving an almost certain goal when he raced back to help out, but the pressure eventually resulted in Avondale winning a free at the edge of the Lakewood box. The free kick swerved around the wall with Tareq diving to his right to collect, but the ball bounced just as he was gathering it, and the pace of the shot took it under his body.

At half-time, assistant managers Andrew and Denis reminded the lads that they have beaten this Avondale outfit before and they started the second half with a bit more tempo, and stringing a few more passes together. Luke Davis came on to mind the goal and Tareq moved to midfield, and Lakewood dominated possession in the second half. It paid off about five minutes from time, when Kerry went on one of his trademark runs down the right, then danced into the box, beating two defenders to take him almost to Avondale’s left post. And with just a few inches to manoeuvre, close to the end line, he played a beautiful flat pass across the box where Daniel was arriving at pace to slot it home.

Lakewood had to absorb more pressure but kept a clean-sheet in the second half to hold on for a well-deserved 2-2 draw, to retain their position at the top of the league.