Portlaoise United 3 – 1 Clane United
Portlaoise United returned to action after a two week break with a tough game against Clane United ion the Midlands cup. This competition features the top teams from the M.S.L and Kildare league in an open draw competition. Portlaoise had gone to the Kildare’s side home patch and come away with a hard fought 3-1 victory, and allowing for the two goal cushion they were still well aware of the threat that Clane posed.
Portlaoise started strongly, with ace marksman Jamie Toman going close after good work by Luke Makin in midfield set him up. Clane weathered this early storm however, and the Portlaoise midfield of Makin, Ben McDonald and David Burke were working hard to swing the tide in their teams favour. Clane got the breakthrough after 15 minutes, when their tricky left winger worked his way through and finished in style. To their credit Portlaoise did not panic, and within minutes were back level when a neat flick from T.J. Delaney set up his striking partner Jamie Toman to fire home.
The turning point of the game came five minutes later, courtesy of some magnificent team play from Conor Brown and Evan Hewitt. Firstly Conor was faced one to one with the Clane left winger, and not for the first time this season to pulled off a superb save to deny the striker. The ball then broke to another Clane player, and he struck the ball well and his shot was heading for the top corner. Evan had other ideas however and had read the situation, rising majestically to head clear to safety.
Portlaoise got their game together again after this let off, with defence of Hewitt, Ben Dwyer, Cian Rafter and Kanya Tshula getting control of the Clane front men. Portlaoise put the tie safe with two goals before half time. The first of these came from Toman, who is having a magnificent season. His current form has led to comparisons to Cork City frontman Sean McGuire, top scorer in the League of Ireland at the moment. . They both share similar stature, along with lighting pace and the ability to finish in style, Jamie’s work rate is also top notch. Shortly after this another man on top form, Dan Ubesie followed up his hat trick for the Midlands squad the previous day with a fine strike before half time.
They second half ,despite having no more goals ,was competitive with Imran Shiite ,Mateusz Cocoon and Cian Bartley Bray all doing Trojan work for Portlaoise. Up front Alex Bennett was causing problems galore for the home side with his trickery and neat play, while John Ging, in his first season playing for the team, worked hard throughout, and with a bit of luck might have got his first goal for the club.
Overall a solid display by Portlaoise, and victory sees them face a tougher prospect of Naas in the next round. Man of the match was Jamie Toman, with an excellent performance once again from Conor Brown in goal, along with the classy Evan Hewitt in defence and Ben McDonald in midfield.