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Monday 23 October 2017

North End survive scare in cup clash

Celtic’s unbeaten record is ended

Dean Goodison

North End United’s Conor Foley makes a textbook sliding tackle on Owen O’Brien of New Ross Celtic
North End United’s Conor Foley makes a textbook sliding tackle on Owen O’Brien of New Ross Celtic
New Ross Celtic’s Matej Stepanek in a battle for possession with Jack Foley of North End United
The victorious North End United squad prior to Saturday’s cup success in New Ross

When two unbeaten teams met in the second round of the Wexford and District Schoolboys Soccer Under-14 Cup something had to give, and it proved to be hosts New Ross Celtic's fine undefeated record to start the season.

North End United 4 New Ross Celtic 2

Undoubtedly the Division 2 side, flying high at the top of the table with seven wins and a draw in their eight games, came into the last 16 clash as underdogs but they were not a team without a fighter's chance.

They gave Division 1 title contenders North End a scare, matching their talented opponents with a good brand of football, a clear and clever gameplan and no lack of heart and determination.

However, the Belvedere boys, who are hunting down Gorey Rangers in the title race and still aiming for a double, had that little more cutting edge in the final third. They scored four good goals and were not to be denied their place in the last eight opposite Kilmore.

It was a tight opening ten minutes with the home side looking to hit fast on the counter but with United controlling the ball. Jason Gordon went close, clipping the crossbar with a free-kick, when Alan Mahoney was fouled on the edge of the 'D' in the eighth minute.

When North End did go ahead, four minutes later, it was an even better strike by the talented midfielder. Intercepting a ball 30 yards out, to the right of goal, Gordon unleashed a thunderbolt that flew past hosts' stopper Kuba Gracz to the net.

Celtic could have equalised when Owen O'Brien hared away on goal but Rory O'Brien made an impressive save. There was nothing the North End 'keeper could do as he stood rooted to the spot when Jonas Unckas' 40-yard free-kick rattled the bar eleven minutes before the interval.

Just when it looked like New Ross would go in at the break right in the contest, North End struck with clinical efficiency right on half-time. John Hore got to the byline on the right, and cut back to Josh Howlin who curled a controlled finish just inside the far post.

The game looked up for Celtic when, with their first real attack of the half, Alan Mahoney cut in from the left and fired a deflected effort past Gracz to make it 3-0. However, New Ross battled away and almost pulled a goal back when O'Brien sent his namesake in the North End goal diving to tip away.

Unckas curled home a free-kick from the left edge of the area to make it 3-1 with nine minutes left only for Mahoney to respond with his side's fourth moments later. Dead-ball expert Unckas added another two minutes from time but there was to be no miracle comeback as North End advanced.

North End: Rory O'Brien; Conor Foley, Callum Corcoran, Darragh Carley (capt.), Nathan Romaszewsky; John Hore, Jack Foley, Jason Gordon, Josh Howlin; Alan Mahoney, Darragh Walsh. Subs. - Brad Walsh for D. Walsh (41), Michael Mackey for Hore (65).

New Ross Celtic: Kuba Gracz; Jas Skrobich, Ovidius Saudraugus, Oskar Tomczynski, Owen Lennon; Jonas Unckas; Darragh Flannery, Matej Stepanek, Mico Richardson, David Fitzgerald; Owen O'Brien (capt.). Subs. - Kacper Pacyk for Fitzgerald (48), Cillian Murphy for Pacyk (58).

Referee: Anthony Tobin.

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