Kyle nets winner
All Blacks best as leading duo clash
A Kyle Rankin goal helped All Blacks to victory in the battle of the unbeaten duo against Duncannon in the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer League Under-11 Division 1A in Ryan's Park on Saturday.
All Blacks 1 - Duncannon 0
The strike was just desserts for his talented side as they eventually made their pressure and dominance tell with a clinching goal nine minutes into the second-half.
It had been frustration up to that point for the visitors as the Duncannon rearguard of Mark Bates, Tomás Kehoe and James O'Sullivan - anchored by the impressive goalkeeping talents of Joe McPhillips - kept the forays at bay.
However, Rankin was always impressive and it was no surprise when he forced home the winner. It needed a cool head too and Evan Cullen was just the player to show it. His square ball perfectly picked out Rankin inside the area and the midfielder flashed home from close range.
Duncannon came close to an equaliser six minutes later when Bobby Nolan was fouled and it took a stunning low save from Lee Kelly to keep out the resulting pile-driver from Jamie Foley. They would never come as close again as the Mayglass boys push ahead at the summit.
Earlier, with Danny Kelly, Ryan Goldsmith, Dan Devereux and Quinn Kelly controlling the Duncannon threat, All Blacks dominated the opening half. The visitors have only conceded two goals this season and that's hardly a surprise given their quality in the back third of the field.
Jake Cleary, Rankin, Cullen and Alan Boggan created several excellent moves with some lovely passing triangles but most of their pot-shots ended wide of the target in the opening quarter.
When Cameron Cook did play a penetrative through ball, McPhillips made a great save at the feet of Seán Denton to prevent an opening goal. The hosts did have one first-half effort when Bobby Nolan's pass was controlled by Aidan Shanahan and his snap-shot was comfortably saved by Lee Kelly.
If the first-half was full of half chances then the early stages of the second saw All Blacks pepper their opponents' goal. Rankin had a shot blocked, Quinn Kelly fired over the bar and then Rankin cracked an effort off the crossbar that McPhillips got a finger-tip to.
Dan Devereux then had a shot deflected behind and Rankin headed over the bar before his moment came. One coolly-taken shot to the bottom of the net was enough to wrap up a vital win for All Blacks as they move clear at the top of the table.
Star man - Kyle Rankin (All Blacks): It needed a tidy finish after a helter-skelter first 35 minutes and the always involved Rankin provided it.
All Blacks: Lee Kelly; Danny Kelly, Ryan Goldsmith, Dan Devereux, Quinn Kelly; Jake Cleary, Kyle Rankin, Evan Cullen; Alan Boggan. Subs. (rolling) - Seán Denton, James Wright, Tadhg Hayes, Cameron Cook.
Duncannon: Joe McPhillips; Mark Bates, Tomás Kehoe, James O'Sullivan; Aidan Shanahan, Jamie Foley, Harrison Waters, Bobby Nolan; Ciarán McPhillips. Subs. (rolling) - Owen Murphy, Aaron McDermott, Billy Bohanna.
Referee: Derek Egan.