Ballysillan Swifts IIs 1 Queen’s Colts 2

Colts win away to leaders Ballysillan.

The Colts secured a hugely important victory on Saturday away to league leaders Ballysillan Swifts to close the gap to four points – but with five games in hand on the first placed team who have one game remaining.

A hail storm arrived just before kick-off for this top of the table clash in North Belfast. The students, with almost their first choice eleven on show started brightly forcing a couple of good saves from the home keeper. In difficult conditions and on a small playing surface The Colts continued to cause the Ballysillan defence all sorts of issues in a first half completely dominated by the visitors. Paddy White was unable to keep his shot down after good work on the right from Kyle McCullough and then McCullough hit he far post after he dribbled into the box shortly afterwards. A succession of corners followed but no-one could get a touch to any of them as the Ballysillan goal somehow remained intact. McCullough was upended in the penalty area midway through the half giving Niall McCourt the opportunity to put the students ahead. However, the attempt went wide to the delight of the home support. A setback for the students but continued pressure finally produced the opening goal of the game. After a one-two between White and McCullough near the half way line a lofted pass was controlled beautifully by Peter Morgan just inside the box and he deftly found the corner of the goal leaving the Ballysillan keeper rooted to the spot.

McCourt and Enright marshalled the defence brilliantly and the home side were limited to one shot on goal in the first period ensuring the students held a fully deserved lead 1-0 lead a the half-time break.

Ballysillan started the second half a lot more positively and had a short period of pressure – which the students looked to have weathered – until a long ball caught out a couple of defenders and a clever pass was slipped under Andrew Gawne from point blank range to give Ballysillan a lifeline. However, Queens reacted very well and began to take control of the game again. Hassib went close with a free-kick from twenty-five yards. Corner after corner went unconverted as the students pressed for a winner. At the other end Queens survived an indirect free-kick from no-more than six yards out and Ballysillan missed a glorious chance to take the lead when a shot across the goal went narrowly wide. A point each looked the likely outcome but in the 85th minute a long ball found Andrew White on the edge of the box and after a neat one-two he slotted home from close range to send the students into raptures. The Colts comfortably saw out the remaining minutes to record a massively important and thoroughly deserved victory.

This was fabulous all-round team performance with McCullough again the standout player. In truth Queens should have been out of sight by half-time and must become more clinical in front of goal to ensure the rewards their excellent build-up play merits. However, in a ‘must win’ game the youngsters showed great character and got the job done.

Next up for The Colts is a visit to 4th Newtownabbey as the road trip continues apace.

Scorers: Morgan and A. White