Saturday’s game saw Dollingstown Reserves take on Ambassador FC first team in the Mid Ulster Shield. Town were massive under dogs coming into the game due to the opposition being a Division 1 first team full of experience from league above. With the pressure on Ambassadors to win Town decided to experiment and give players chances in different positions.
The game started with Ambassador’s setting the tempo, moving the ball well; Town had to be switched on from the start with a number of long balls played behind our defence to test them, however the defence marshalled by Forsyth was not going to let a few long balls beat us, defending well in the opening 10 minutes saw Ambassadors reduced to 1 long range shot that sailed past the upright. On the twelfth minute Ambassadors forced a corner, the towering Capper headed in unmarked at the back post, this was nothing more than Ambassadors deserved having put Town on the back foot from the kick off.
A second goal quickly arrived on the eighteenth minute when a corner was cleared out to the corner of the 18 yard box only for the lively Dodds to catch everyone out with a clever and unstoppable shot into the bottom corner. 2-0 to Ambassadors and they were good value for the lead, was looking like we could be in for a long day however the second goal seemed to galvanise Town, who seemed to catch onto the new formation and started to play football, the midfield of Josiah, Cathal and Connor started to dominate, winning every tackle and header which gave the team a solid platform in which to attack from.
The remainder of the first half saw Town dictate the tempo and create chances for the two strikers in Traynor and Lavery whose tireless running and pressing gave the opposition little time on the ball. On thirty eight minutes a fantastic team goal started by Morrow winning his aerial battle that saw the ball worked left to Branker who powered up the line and play a neat 1-2 with Lavery before finding Cathal who cut inside and unleashed a dipping shot from twenty yards out. 2-1, game is now certainly on however Town have to be alert to the Ambassadors attack, especially that of Capper and Dodds who looked dangerous for the majority of the game. The half time whistle came too early for Town who were enjoying the majority of the play.
At half time we knew what to expect from the second half, Ambassadors now had the chance to regroup and figure out a way to regain the upper hand.
The upper hand was regained within two minute of the restart when a hand ball allowed the Ambassadors #10 to curl a fantastic free kick into the top right hand corner, no stopping it and a fantastic piece of skill to get the ball up and over the wall from twenty yards out. The town management knew this was not the killer blow, no chance and Town quickly found their feet, on the fifty six minute Ryan Hill was fouled in the box, penalty to Town, this could be our way back into the game, top scorer Lavery stepped up confidently only to have his penalty saved by the impressive Ambassadors keeper who did not make one mistake all game.
This gave the opposition a new lease of life and they grew in confidence, the game started to open up, became an end to end match with both teams sparing but neither looking likely to score are concede. On the eighty seventh minute a back pass was latched onto by Dodds who again scored with a cool finish into the bottom corner. This is how the game finished with both teams cancelling each other out for the majority of the second half.
Special mention goes to the two danger men from Ambassadors in Capper and Dodds. In addition to this Josiah, Dylan and Cathal were fantastic for Town throughout the game.
A game in which the score line did not reflect the performance, a 4-1 defeat would make you think that it was an easy ride for Ambassadors but it defiantly was not, three individual errors lead to 3 goals and a missed penalty if scored would have meant game on for the second time.
We are now down to the 1%’s those tiny margins that can win you a game or lose you the game and today that’s what cost us the game. Training will be stepped up over the coming weeks as we look to eradicate those errors, it’s actually a positive that we feel disappointed at loosing this game as no one expected us to have a chance. There are a lot of positives and as we look back from when we took over the team, the squad has grown, players have improved and a team spirit has been created. We look now to the games ahead, two cup and two league games, expectation are growing at the club and players will have to step up and start to rise to the occasion.