independent

Wednesday 13 December 2017

Murphy helps Bridge Rovers keep promotion hopes alive

BRENDAN FURLONG At Castlebridge

KEVIN MURPHY marked this promotion clash with a 79th minute goal that helped keep Bridge Rovers promotion chances alive against table toppers Park Hotspur in this Wexford Football League Division 1 clash at Castlebridge.

Park Hotspur may sit at the top of the table but they needed all three points to keep the pressure on the chasing pack as this was their final game of the campaign. Now they must await the outcome of games in hand for both Moyne Rangers and Ross Town. Moyne should they win their remaining games can still clinch the title, while Ross Town at best can finish on level points with Park Hotspur leaving much still to play for over the final weeks of the season.

Many Park Hotspur fans made the short journey across Wexford Bridge in the hope that their side would make that further step towards the title and promotion back to the top flight, but they came away disappoints, as they were left frustrated with their side failing to make a real impact up front, where their creativity was lacking, only troubling the home keeper on two occasions during the course of the ninety minutes.

With the homesides mind set on taking the points to keep their outside promotion chances alive, they showed the greater energy in their play, as they battled for every ball, while their quick attacking football was sure to create at least one chance in front of goal, and this arrived eleven minutes from the end as Murphy drilled a low shot to the net, after the Hotspur defence had been prised open down the right flank.

The bite was in both sides play from the start with Park Hotspur getting their first sight of goal after seven minutes, but Mark Flood's shot from a Peter Marsden header down was well held by keeper Shane Berney. Four minutes later it took a quick advance from Ciaran O'leary to beat Oisin Firman to a long ball out of midfield, with the keeper carrying an ankle injury following the collision for the remainder of the game.

Within three minutes Sean Balin cut inside from the right wing but his well struck low shot was well held by keeper Berney, while at the opposite end a superb late Jason Malone tackle denied Oisin Firman as he was about to shoot from ten meters in what was his sides first clear-cut chance of the game.

But in the 34th minute Bridge Rovers had claims for a penalty turned down when Derek Walsh went down in the area. The front man was admonished by Referee Michael Franklin for diving but should at least have been yellow carded for unsporting behaviour. As the half progressed the respective back four came more in control so it was no surprise when the sides went in 0-0 at the interval.

Eight minutes after the restart, Park Hotspur came mighty close to taking the lead, but Declan Goodison's glancing header from a Peter Marsden cross went just the wrong side of the left hand upright with keeper Berney well beaten as his defence stood still.

Park Hotspur began to apply more pressure with Harry Kavanagh having a shot blocked by a packed goalmouth, while Paddy King had another attempt on goal blocked away for a fruitless corner kick.

Realising that three points were there for the taking, Bridge Rovers began to up the tempo of their game, getting their deserved reward in the 79th minute. Following good approach football down the right, the ball came into the path of Kevin Murphy who cut inside past several defenders before drilling a low shot to the right of keeper O'leary who was unable to get down been clearly hampered by his ankle injury.

During the closing minutes Park Hotspur laid siege to the homesides goal in search of an equaliser but the breakthrough never looked like coming as Bridge Rovers defended in numbers to protect their single goal lead.

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