Dollingstown Fight Back To Secure Point Against Reigning Champions

Dollingstown Res 2:2 Coagh Utd Res

Current champions Coagh United Reserves were the visitors to Planters Park on Saturday in what was billed as a massive fixture in determining how competitive our Reserves can be this season.

Coagh went all of last season unbeaten in the league, and from the outset of Saturday’s game, showed why, with their direct and balanced approach, and it became apparent that this would indeed be a huge test for the young reserve squad.

Dtown started brightly, determined to put right the inconsistent display of last week, and began to dictate possession, albeit without threatening the Coagh goalkeeper, but unfortunately a defensive mix up after 10 minutes allowed the visitors to take the lead, with a deflected effort past the helpless Robinson.

This however, was to be a catalyst for a strong first half performance, as the hosts began to dominate and penetrate the Coagh back line.  The impressive Allen on several occasions was proving a handful for the visitors, and his work-rate fed debutant Rea who had the best chance of the first half, thwarted fortunately by the home keeper on the half hour.  

Marshaled by skipper Wright and combative Houston, Dtown continued to move the ball well and increased the tempo towards half time, creating several opportunities, none of which would fall kindly to strikers Montgomery and McCluskey, and as the game reached half time, despite being territoriality on top, Dtown went in behind.

Half Time 0:1

The message at half time was that the rewards for a fine first half would come, and patience was required.  Coagh remained strong, and were utilising their excellent centre forward at every opportunity, but the Dtown back line remained superior as the second half got under way.  Harrison and Forsyth in particular were afforded space by the Coagh forward line, and it was pleasing that the default approach of building from the back was carried out as once again, Dtown began to move the ball well.

However, 10 minutes into the second half, Dtown suffered another uncharacteristic defensive error, with mis-communication allowing the advancing striker to prod home from 10 yards.

Despite dominating proceedings, Dtown found themselves behind to two poor goals and it seemed despite an excellent performance with the ball, they would once again not take the rewards their performance warranted.

However, as in the first half, the second Coagh goal seemed to galvanise an already strong performance, and there was renewed belief that by sticking to their principles, that chances would arrive.  With a two-goal lead, Coagh seemed to sit back and counter attack, allowing Forsyth and Denver to advance and with the pace of Allen and McCluskey, combined with a dominating midfield, pressure again built on the visitors.  

With 10 minutes remaining, Allen became the architect for Dtown getting back into the game, when his driving run inside led to him being upended, with striker McCluskey despatching the resulting freekick, with the aid of a slight deflection to give the home side home hope.

Changes were made as Dtown sought an equaliser their performance at least justified and it was substitute Denver who provided fresh energy in the middle and this pressure told, when, with only a few minutes remaining, he delicately picked out captain Wright, who equalised with a very composed finish.

Credit to Dtown, their renewed belief actually meant they pressed in the final few minutes to snatch a victory, but the match ended all square.

In summary, whilst very disappointed with the nature of the goals conceded, the reaction and character shown by the young side was rewarded with a point.  After last week’s poor showing, a reaction was expected, and delivered. Dtown once again showed that they are developing well and once again received praise from the opposition team on the manner in which they play.  The challenge now is to turn out strong performances such as this against a good Coagh side, on a consistent basis. Collectively and individually Saturday was positive and more akin to the ability within this squad.

Next up for Dtown is a huge challenge against Portadown U20’s in Mid Ulster Shield

Full Time 2:2

Squad:  Robinson, M Denver, Harrison, Forsythe, Armstrong, Houston, A Denver, Wright, Allen, Rea, Montgomery, Duffy, Branker, Cartwright, McCluskey

MOTM: David Houston