We secured a vital three points on Saturday as we defeated Strule United 6-2 at Youth Sport in Omagh on Saturday afternoon. Missing Jordan Cadden, Sean Keenan, William Armstrong, Kelvin McElroy, Matthew Woods and Shane Ingram we reshuffled the pack slightly, with Gareth Carrothers, Lewis Vance and Ryan O’Keefe recalled to the starting XI, and Ryan Flanagan, Stuart Johnston and Richard Woods given a place in the squad following fine performances for the Reserves and at training in recent weeks.
Strule started brighter and looked lively down their right hand side, with Kyle McCrory and Tomas Flanagan giving us plenty to think about with their pace and movement. Indeed it was a combination of both those players that put Strule ahead. McCrory winning the ball back before getting to the bye line and cutting the ball back to Flanagan who made no mistake and blasted past McDonald in to the roof of the net. It took us a while to settle, but within 10 minutes we were back on level terms. A Paul Elliot free kick was partially cleared, and when we shifted the ball back to Elliott his cross was controlled and finished by Jamie Coalter. At the other end, Coalter made a superb flying block to prevent a Strule thunderbolt testing McDonald. With the wind in our sails we began to take control of the tie and moments later we took the lead when Sam Lindsay laid it on a plate for Ryan Lindsay to burst in to the box and drill the ball past the helpless Strule keeper. We very nearly made it three when a Ryan O’Keefe cross was fractionally missed by Stuart Cochrane, and Ryan Lindsays follow up effort was cleared off the line for another corner. Sam Lindsay went close when he cut in from the left, but could only find the side netting. O’Keefe looked like he had scored when he out jumper the Strule keeper, but his header was cleared off the line. We did get a third when Paul McGrath headed home from another Paul Elliott delivery. Strule finished the half strongly, but we went in at half time 3-1 to the good.
We knew the next goal would prove vital, and it came about 10 minutes in to the second half. After a bit of a scramble in the Strule box, Gareth Carrothers controlled and volley home from just inside the penalty area, much to the delight of the large travelling support. To make matters worse for Strule, they had Tomas Flanagan sent off for his second deliberate handball. After this we had numerous chances to extend our lead, the best of which fell to Richard Woods, Ryan O’Keefe and Ryan Flanagan, but all were denied by fine saves from the Strule keeper. We gifted Strule their second goal of the game when we were caught in possession trying to play out from the back, and McCrory was left with the simplest of tasks of rolling the ball in to an empty net.
However, we added a fifth from the penalty spot after O’Keefe was fouled when through on goal, and Sam Lindsay stepped up to blast home. O’Keefe then got on the scoresheet late on when he race clear and lifted the ball delicately over the keeper to leave the final score 6-2. A much, much improved performance from the previous week, and exactly the reaction we needed. We now have two home games left as we continue our battle to stay up. It was great to see such a large support at the game yesterday and we hope everyone rallies behind the players for our next two games.