We earned a valuable and thoroughly deserved three points when we beat NFC Kesh 4-2 at Drumad on Saturday. In the opening 30 seconds we squandered possession twice, allowing Flack to whip in a dangerous cross which we scrambled clear. After that however, we turned on the style and Kesh simply could not get near us as we raced in to a two goal lead with two superb team goals in opening 10 minutes. The first started with a short Sam McDonald goal kick and 4 or 5 passes later a back heel flick from Paul McGrath teed up Robbie Little who thumped home a powerful effort from the edge of the box in to the roof of the net. The second was even better, with the ball starting in the left back area with Sean Keenan, and numerous passes later involving Vance, Little, McGrath, Lindsay and Armstrong, Kelvin McElroy was released down the right wing and his fizzing cross was superbly drilled home by Paul Elliott. Two goals of the highest order as we were keeping possession with ease as Kesh were shell shocked at this stage and looked well off the pace.
However, the visitors were to hit back midway through the first half. Lee Walker was a constant threat down the left wing with his pace and dangerous delivery, so it was no surprise he created the goal when his cross cannoned off Sean Keenan and bounced agonisingly over the line past McDonald. Kesh really upped their game and had a great chance to equalise when a Chris McDowell free kick fell invitingly for the impressive Grant Ellis, but this time McDonald was on hand to thwart the danger. Robbie Little had a decent chance at the other end when he turned sharply but blasted just wide, in hindsight he should have laid the ball off to Paul Elliott who was well placed for a simple finish. Meanwhile, Kesh had another glorious chance to equalise just before half time when Flack arrived late at the back post but his header was well off target.
There wasn’t as much free flowing football on display in the second half, but we were treated to two more stunning strikes. Kesh had started well and were enjoying a lot of possession but were failing to create any meaningful chances. Then came the all important third goal, which was expertly dispatched by Sean Keenan. Following a corner, the ball was cleared as far as Ryan Lindsay and he hit a rasping volley which was blocked, but when the ball rebounded straight to him, he slipped the ball to Keenan who bent a beautiful strike in to the far top corner. Shortly after, Stuart Cochrane made a surging run forward and was clipped just as he entered the box in a cynical foul, but bewilderingly the referee waved play on and less than 20 seconds later McDonald had to produce a smart save to deny Mark Jones. It was have been total injustice had Kesh scored at that point. However, Kesh did very nearly score a beauty when a pile driver from McDowell produced a wonder save from McDonald to preserve our two goal advantage. Adam McKenna was introduced to make his first team debut, replacing the superb Lewis Vance who had put in an unbelievable shift throughout and really epitomised our performance in terms of work rate and quality on the ball.
Sean Keenan, not content with his first strike, stepped up to curl a stunning free kick right in to the same top corner as he had done moments earlier. The supporters getting value for money today. Kesh weren’t about to throw in the towel as you’d expect, and Walker remained a constant thorn in our side and again was at the heart of the visitors second goal. He dangerous delivery looping over McDonald, and with a player arriving behind him, Sam tried desperately to tip the ball over the bar but inadvertently pushed the ball in to his own net. Indeed, Kesh very well could have closed the gap further when a delightful McDowell free kick somehow eluded everyone and drifted harmlessly wide for a goal kick. Robbie Little very nearly got a fifth for us when Brownlee spilled a routine catch, but he blasted high over the bar under fierce pressure from Brownlee who reacted well to his blunder. Nevertheless, it was a convincing performance and one we can hope to build on going forward, although it won’t be easy next week as we travel to play a rejuvenated Irvinestown Wanderers.