U18, Div 2, Newport Town AFC 2-2 Caledonians

Sunday, February 3 2019 (Derryleigh Park)

Scorers: Jack O’Carroll & Devon Ryan

The U18 Youths welcomed unbeaten league leaders, Cals, to Derryleigh Park on Sunday afternoon. Before the game Newport were 3 points behind in second place, so a defeat would have left Newport with an uphill struggle. After a tough, physical & full-blooded encounter, two good teams couldn’t be separated and both sides earned a point apiece after a 2-2 draw with Jack O’Carroll & Devon Ryan on the score-sheet for Newport.

Newport were missing some key players through illness & suspension, so there were a number of U17 players and U16 player, Daniel Egan in the starting eleven. With a decent crowd in attendance, it was clear from the kick-off that neither side were going to take a backward step given the importance of the game. Newport started in a positive manner with Jack O’Carroll working hard up-front as he led the line on his own. The home side’s good start was rewarded in the 22nd minute, when Jack O’Carroll latched onto a pin-point pass over the top from Ciaran Flynn and the in-form striker coolly slotted the ball under the onrushing Cals keeper to give Newport the lead. However the lead was short-lived when the visitors equalised just 4 minutes later. A shot from the edge of the box was only parried by the Newport keeper, Josh White, and the Cals player reacted quickest to poke home from close range.

There was some fairly hefty challenges in the first half and Cals led the card count with 2 yellows and none for Newport. With no quarters asked or given, there were no more goals in the first half and the score remained 1-1 at the interval.

The Newport half-time team talk was very upbeat as the lads were well in the game and playing in a very positive manner and just more of the same was asked for in the second half. The visitors yellow card count continued to mount in the second half but Newport kept their discipline and played football. Having soaked up some pressure early in the second half, Newport turned the screw and deservedly took the lead again in the 70th minute when Jack O’Carroll flicked on a free-kick from Darren Collins and Devon Ryan was in the right place to fire home to put Newport 2-1 ahead.

The Newport back four of Killian O’Malley, Jack Noble, Darren Collins & John Ryan were solid throughout the game and Cals continued to rely on some long balls and long throw-ins, which in fairness, were proving to be effective. Brendan McMahon continued his recent run of form with a hard-working shift in the midfield, breaking up a lot of Cals attacks. Karl Kelly, who worked his socks off during the game was replaced by another young player, Jack Ryan. With 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Cals launched another long throw into the 6 yard box and a a deflected clearing header was then headed by a Cals player past Josh White from close range. This was another fairly soft goal conceded by Newport and it was a hard one to take so late in the game. Both sides now pushed on for a winner but despite a couple of half-chances both goals remained intact and the points were shared. Overall, a draw was probably a fair result but twice relinquishing the lead was very disappointing for the lads and their management. Not all subs were used but the lads know that every position is up for grabs and all players will be called on and relied upon in the second half of the season.

Both sides have 5 games remaining and Cals retain their 3 point lead but these two sides have to play each other again and depending on how the intervening results go, there could still be lots to play for when these sides are scheduled to meet again in the final game of the season.

Best of luck to our Youth players, Darren Collins & Jack Noble, who are in the Limerick District Inter-League Youth squad, that travel to play the Carlow League next Saturday. A draw will be enough to see Limerick through to the knock-out stage of the competition. It’s great to see Newport players appearing on representative squads.

Match Squad: Josh White, Killian O’Malley, Jack Noble, John Ryan Rose, Darren Collins, Brendan McMahon, Devon Ryan, Daniel Egan, Jack O’Carroll, Ciarán Flynn, Karl Kelly, Jack Ryan, Chris Carmody, Robert Duggan & Cian O’Connell.