Saturday 30th September – LYFL under 16’s
Downpatrick FC 3 v TW Braga 3
A deep sense of intrepidation was instilled in the boys ahead of this anticipated clash with league leaders T.W Braga and the Downpatrick lads arrived at Wallace Park psyched up to prove they would be no push over. Strategic changes were made to the Downpatrick back line to show the Braga lads that goals would not be a forgone conclusion.
Connor Rogan stepped into the keeper role and immediately took charge with confident and athletic saves from a series of Braga attacks in the first ten minutes. The back line of Conail Gardiner, Liam Toner, Brian Kennedy and Peter Kearney were disciplined and challenged every Braga player head-on. Braga shot on 10 minutes but it struck the bar. Shortly after attacking midfielder, Andrew McClean shot on 12 minutes but the ball was cleared. Downpatrick were upping the ante and a minute later, McClean’s opposite, Luke Shields was there to knock in a deadly strike from nothing that shocked the Braga team.
Downpatrick were on fire and attacks came again and again, Ethan Breen and Matthew Murray were clocking up the miles alongside Jack Fitzsimmons. Ethan Artt stepped in up front as sole striker replacing Colin Jones who had caused merry hell in the first 25 minutes. Equally, Braga pushed forward but Kearney and Toner stood out as rocks in defence. Toner was afraid of nothing and made key tackles easing the pressure and breaking the Braga momentum. On 24 minutes a free kick was awarded to Downpatrick. Midfielder Jack Fitzsimmons stepped up and planted the ball in top left corner to make it 2 nil.
Half Time: Downpatrick FC 2 v TW Braga 0
Downpatrick had to keep their heads in this second half and try to hold on to their deserved lead, Braga however had other ideas. An onslaught of attacks and shots were met with a steadfast Downpatrick defence, with again Rogan doing his part along with Toner. The bar came to the rescue on two occasions but the sustained pressure couldn’t be held and Braga got one back on 48 minutes and their equaliser on 55mins.
There was no way the boys were going to let this slip and atmosphere on the pitch and side lines was palpable. Rogan was playing a blinder and made many saves but Braga went ahead on 62 minutes after Downpatrick were briefly down to 10 men while a player was treated on the touch line. Literally from the restart, an incensed Andrew McClean received the ball from a deft pass from the wing and knocked in the equaliser just before the final whistle giving the boys a deserved draw. A very entertaining, physical match played by two teams with discipline, skill and gusto.