With this being our second last game, and Tummery unable to drop anymore points as they look to keep the pressure on Enniskillen Rangers at the top of the table, this was always going to be a tense encounter and it certainly lived up to the expectations. The game started with a very high tempo, both teams working hard and having several chances in the first half an hour. We certainly enjoyed the better of the opening period and produced several clearing openings, but unfortunately we were on able to make the most of them. The first meaningful chance fell to Ryan O’Keefe when he raced through one on one following a superb defence-splitting pass from Sam Lindsay, but being on his less favoured right foot he shot was easily saved by the Tummery keeper.
We then had a glorious opportunity to break the dead lock when O’Keefe got to the byeline and pulled the ball back over the keeper, but when Sam Lindsay arrived at the back post he could only volley agonisingly over. We then had an excellent move, playing out from the back and 5 or 6 passes later Paul McGrath back heeled the ball in to the path of Ryan Lindsay, but his shot was well saved by their keeper once again and Tummery were able to clear the danger. Next, a superb Paul Elliott cross found Paul McGrath at the back post but he just couldn’t direct his header on target.
Tummery finished the half strongly, but we weathered the storm. Cathal Beacom turned sharply on the edge of the box and his shot went just over, and Aidy McCaffrey fired just wide from the edge of the box. Sam McDonald had to make an excellent double save from a Sludden free kick and he was up sharply to save the rebound with his legs.
Tummery had a decent chance right at the start of the second half but Sludden couldn’t hit the target. For large periods of the second half both teams cancelled each other out, with no real cleat cut chances at either end. Tummery were enjoying a lot of possession, but our defence stood firm making several key blocks and headers, whilst Sam McDonald look very assured and dealt comfortably with anything that made it his length. At the other end, Richard Woods had a half chance comfortable saved, whilst a Gareth Carrothers header was easily saved by the Tummery keeper and Sam Lindsay had a shot deflected wide. We forced several corners but failed to make the most out of them, failing to beat the front man on several occasions. Tummery then had a great chance to break the dead lock with about 5 minutes to go when Ciaran Beacom burst in to the area but he fired well wide when in a very promising position.
At that point it looked like the game would fizzle out in to a 0-0 draw when right at the death Tummery were awarded a very dubious penalty in the 89th minute. Aaron Lindsay made a superb last ditch tackle to clear the danger and prevent a Tummery player getting his shot away. Naturally his momentum meant that he and the Tummery played collided after the ball was cleared, which would suggest, if anything, a free kick to us. But no, the referee deemed it a penalty for the follow through challenge, much to the amazement of both teams. Sludden made no mistake and tucked it past McDonald. With only a few minutes remaining we forced another corner, and had a few long throws but Tummery were able to clear the danger and we couldn’t get a clean strike at goal through a mass of bodies.
Hugely disappointing not to get something out of the game, but we must give the players huge credit for a fine performance and maximum effort that surely deserved at least a point. We wish Tummery all the best for the run in as they are still challenging on all fronts, which is a fantastic achievement at this stage of the season. We now only have one game left to save our season when we host Kesh at Drumad, date to be confirmed. Details of this match will be published once the fixture date is confirmed and we hope to see a large support out to cheer us on.