PORTLAOISE UNITED 1 -0 KILLEIGH
Portlaoise United came into this Mark Casey Cup quarter final second leg against Killeigh on the back of two disappointing defeats and perhaps a bit low on confidence. Killeigh were buoyant after their win last time but United had a crucial away goal so it was all to play for.
Even on their home pitch this time out, United seemed to start very nervously and this turned into frustration as the game progressed, but credit to them they never gave up.
Killeigh started well and tried to make a breakthrough as United were a little slow to clear their lines.
5 minutes in and one example saw TJ Delaney making good headway through on goal but the Killeigh defence broke it down and changed it into counter attack forcing an excellent and very important tackle by United’s Barry Fitzpatrick.
On 7minutes Kanye Tshula was doing some nice solid defensive work on the left and managed to find Jamie Toman but it was defended well by Killeigh and put out for a throw.
Imran Shitta had a good chance to shoot after good tackles from Ben McDonald but again was overpowered by Killeigh midfielders tracking back. This started another Killeigh counter and Mattie Kocon, who was rock solid all game, made a really significant intercepting tackle when Killeigh were coming forward in waves and the threat was snuffed out.
Just after this, Killeigh asserted their intent by having another go and just shot wide of the left post.
11minutes and good teamwork by United saw TJ Delaney cross from one side of the box to the other to Ben Doyle who had a first time shot blocked. Ben retrieved the ball and passed to Kanye who quickly moved the ball to Cian Rafter and he quickly flicked it on to Jamie but he was marshalled out by defenders to let the ball run out for a goal kick.
15minutes gone and Kanye was trying hard to get out of the left corner under significant Killeigh pressure and he managed to make an excellent tackle after losing the battle at first and put the ball out for a corner. The corner resulted in a free header from one of the Killeigh players who made a super run that deserved a better finish.
This was the most significant let off to this point for United and Killeigh were definitely making the best chances to gain an away goal for themselves.
After this United started to get a foot hold into the game that was a battle for the whole duration. A corner for United gave a chance for Ben Doyle that was just over the bar.
20minutes and a good gather by Conor Brown in United’s goal from a Killeigh corner after a few attempts in a pinball box of efforts by Killeigh kept the score at 0-0.
United finished the half well gaining in confidence with Ben McDonald having another good display with his defensive duties and working well with Ben Doyle tackling on the wing as everyone was putting their nervy hearts into the game.
3 minutes were left in the half and Dan Ubesie won a free on the right wing. United powerhouse Barry Fitzpatrick sent in an excellent delivery but nobody from United was able to capitalise.
No score at half time.
The second half started with both teams coming out full of energy but Killeigh were stringing the passes together far better in this period.
In the first 5 minutes of the half, there was a chance for Killeigh to break but good covering by Ben McDonald to support Evan Hewitt at the back prevented it becoming a goal scoring opportunity.
Another chance for Killeigh soon followed and this was saved at the near post by Conor.
38minutes and the clearest chance for Killeigh to nearly kill the tie when a cross goal ball was palmed by Conor away from the head of a Killeigh attacker. The inrushing striker put it over when it was easier to score. Another let off for United.
44 minutes and it was United’s turn to play pinball in the Killeigh box. Jamie, Alex Bennett, Dan and Ben Doyle tried to get the shot in but it was cleared out and resulted immediately in a fast Killeigh break. Super back tracking by Barry halted this and put it out for a corner. Killeigh were unable to take advantage and all they could muster was a weak shot wide. Killeigh enjoyed a few minutes or pressure after this but no breakthrough.
Time was running out for United and with only 10 minutes left a great chance was engineered between Jamie and Ben Doyle who flicked a through ball to Alex but he was forced too wide by the keeper.
Conor then pulled off another fine save at short range which was followed almost immediately by another. It was Conor Brown who was keeping it at 0-0 and keeping the tie alive for United.
United suffered a few injuries during the match and Cian Bartley Bray, Ben Dwyer and David Burke all had to come in to the back line at various points in a tough contest and all did very well.
The last three minutes saw the two most defining moments in the tie. United dangerously played the ball across the back line and it was picked up by the Killeigh striker who smacked ball and beat the keeper but it hit the back post and rebounded back across goal line and put to safety as a result of the power it was hit with. That would have killed the tie in Killeigh’s favour.
Within a minute Killeigh had another chance from a free but it was blazed over the bar.
Three minutes into injury time and Dan Ubesie was fouled on the right hand side which resulted in the offending Killeigh player injuring himself. The few minutes delay while attention was given to the Killeigh player gave United time to compose themselves. United coach Cathal Hewitt instructed Ben Doyle to take the free and to deliver it into the box. United all pushed forward knowing this was the last chance. After a few deep breaths, Ben Doyle delivered a sublime ball and Evan Hewitt struck a deft sweeping touch to guide the ball home beating his marker and the keeper.
Massive celebrations followed by the United team knowing that they knew they were second best for a lot of this two legged tie but were now gone through on away goals as the final whistle went very soon afterwards.
There was huge relief after a few tough gamesin the previous week as United progress to the semi-final.
Man of The Match was Conor Brown who kept Portlaoise United in this tie and ultimately in this competition.
Killeigh have given United 4 tough battles this year in league and cup matches with United just coming out on top at the death and they will be disappointed to have been so close to progressing. Well done to a resilient United for sticking it out.