LAST season’s top scorer, Chris Trussell, scored his customary goal but his strike failed to get Ballyclare Comrades’ new season off to a winning start against Donegal Celtic in Championship 1.
The former Bangor man had the home fans cheering at Dixon Park when he edged his side ahead against DC, but a late unfortunate home own goal by Chris Monteith resulted in a 1-1 draw.
Both teams concentrated on keeping possession but, with defences on top, scoring opportunities were at a premium.
Jonny McClurg’s close-range header from an Andy Simms cross forced keeper Murphy to pull off the best reaction save of the afternoon at the expense of a corner in the 37th minute, while Celtic’s best first-half effort was a Carson drive that was blocked just before the interval.
The Comrades came out fired up and within seconds Kyle Agnew shot wide from a Mark Wilkinson cross, and moments later the industrious Wilkinson broke through to test Murphy.
The Reds’ pressure paid off in the 54th minute when Wilkinson again beat his marker and crossed for Trussell to drill in the opening goal of the season.
Celtic’s immediate reaction was a Glenholmes drive that was just too high, but on the hour Wilkinson was again foiled by the keeper in a one-against-one confrontation.
In the closing stages the Wee Hoops threatened on several occasions, and were eventually rewarded in the 83rd minute when Monteith sliced the ball in to his own net when trying to make a clearance.
There was drama at each end during time added on. First Hughes seemed set to score, until Paddy Flood dashed off his line to courageously smother the ball at the striker’s feet. Then Daniel Smith in his competitive debut almost secured a home win, when he controlled a pass from Hill, turned his marker and drilled the ball towards the corner of the net, only to be denied by Celtic’s Man of the Match, Murphy.
Comrades: Flood, Doherty, Monteith, Getty, Forsythe; Agnes, McClurg (Cooper 87), McClean, Simms; Wilkinson (Smith 65), Trussell (Hill 75). Subs not used: Rainey, Buckley. The match was sponsored by Fleming & Fulton, Funeral Directors, Ballyclare, and the ball was supplied by The Office, Main Street, Ballyclare.
In this week’s Newtownabbey Times: All the reaction from the DC game and we preview Ballyclare’e Steel Cup match with Lower Maze.