Downpatrick unable to stop Mills in derby

Downpatrick unable to stop Mills in derby

8 November 2017

A COMMANDING second half performance from Drumaness saw them eclipse their derby rivals at Meadowvale on Saturday, a result which leaps them up to fifth in the table and leaves Downpatrick perilously close to the bottom.

The Mills kicked off with a very strong wind at their backs but it was Downpatrick who created the first scoring chance after two minutes. Winger Barry Treacy worked his way down the right and his cross found Ricky Kerr rushing in at the near post, but his scooped shot just went over.

At the other end, Drumaness full back Michael Rainey began a magnificent move which saw some neat interplay between Gavin McEvoy and Anton McGrattan. McEvoy’s cross evaded the visitors’ defensive line and just failed to find Rory Mason rushing in at the back post.

Downpatrick were forced to make an early substitution with Jack McLaughlin entering the game and the tricky winger almost made an instant impact.

Beating the offside trap, he broke free down the left and cut inside the Mills box when Macauley Foster got back to make a timely clearance.

From the resulting corner, Downpatrick took the lead after a calamity in the home defence.

The cross to the back post was only half cleared by ‘keeper Gary O’Hare and an attempted headed clearance somehow found its way back across the goal where Connor McCarron rose highest to head the ball home from close range.

Some good individual skills from Anton McGrattan almost got the Mills back on level terms. Receiving a throw-in from the right, the winger turned and dribbled his way through Downpatrick defence, his final shot just going over.

On the half hour mark conditions got even worse when the heavens opened, adding to the already strong breeze. However, it was Downpatrick who found it easier playing against the weather and dominated the rest of the half.

Treacy found McIlhone breaking in from the left and only a great tackle from Tommy McConville prevented his side from going further behind.

A Barry Fitzsimons cross to the far post was headed down by McIlhone straight into the path of Kerr who blasted wide.

Another Fitzsimons cross found McLoughlin completely unmarked at the back post and his shot was heading goalward until O’Hare produced a magnificent save.

Right on the whistle, Mills full back Rory Mason struck a vicious 35-yard free which Kieran Gordon did well to tip over.

Drumaness began the second period on the offensive and should have equalised in the second minute.

A weaving run through the Downpatrick defence by McEvoy played in Mason at the back post. His first time effort was cleared of the line and rebounded to Sean McQuoid whose shot was also blocked.

Two minutes later, McQuoid beat two defenders and his cross found Mark Holland free in the middle, but he completely mis-hit his shot with the goal at his mercy.

The early Mills pressure finally paid off when McGrattan combined with McEvoy on the right, a pinpoint cross produced a Holland volley at the back post which Gordon parried and Sean McQuoid blasted the rebound in for the equaliser.

Another dazzling solo run from McGrattan from the right saw him reach the by-line and cross for Holland to power in a header which Gordon blocked on the line.

At the other end, the Mills defence had a fright when an attempted clearance by Ryan Fitspatrick was blocked by McIlhone and the big striker was free to run through on goal. A tackle by Mills skipper Gary Murdock was judged to have been outside the box, but Treacy wasted the resultant free by firing well over.

With 15 minutes remaining, Downpatrick were reduced to 10 men in bizarre circumstances. McLaughlin was shown a yellow card for dissent but the referee had barely placed the card in his pocket when he produced yellow again, and then red.

McGrattan was proving to be Downpatrick’s chief tormentor in the second half and another solo run saw him cut in from the right, beat three defenders and fire just over.

From a McQuoid corner on the left, the ball reached McGrattan on the edge of the box and a delicate chip was heading into the top corner before Gordon managed to turn it around for a corner.

At the other end, a Christian Holland free on the left found McIlhone rising at the back post, his powerful header well saved by O’Hare.

With four minutes remaining, the Mills snatched the winner. Steven Deegan, a powerhouse in midfield all afternoon, played a defence-splitting pass to McGrattan cutting in from the right.

His low cross somehow found its way through a packed penalty area and reached left back Rory Mason rushing in at the back post and he blasted the ball into the net.

The proverbial game of two halves, with the Mills just managing to cope better with the difficult conditions.

Drumaness Mills: G O’Hare, M Rainey, R Mason, T McConville, M Foster, G Murdock, A McGrattan, S McQuoid, M Holland, G McEvoy, S Deegan. Subs: C. Cochrane, M McGarrity, R Fitzpatrick.

Downpatrick FC: K Gordon, B Fitzsimons, C Holland, N Taggart, S Douglas, R Kerr, B Treacy, C McKenna, T McIlhone, C McCarron, A McGarry. Subs: A Telford, J McLoughlin, A McCoubrey.

Drumaness Mills 2

Downpatrick FC 1