Pormarnock 1, Spartak 3
Two goals by substitute Keith Kelly, the second with the last kick of the match, decided his tie in Spartak’s favour.
The win was overshadowed by the arm injury to Mick Costello, sustained in a clash when punching clear. Mick tried to continue, before departing for hospital, and was replaced in goal by the ever reliable Mick Greene, who did a capable job of deputising.
The game featured a very open first half, with many chances to either side. Ciaran Keane had a goal disallowed for offside against a colleague, while Jeff Gamble, Ciaran Keane and Darren Ritchie all missed presentable opportunities. Slack play by Spartak allowed the hosts to create at will, and they took the lead. Portmarnock also forced Mick Costello into a number of saves, and missed some good openings.
Portmarnock gained the upper hand for a while, and, with more composure, might well have increased their lead. The equaliser for Spartak arrived just before the break, with Darren Ritchie prodding home Jeff Gamble’s knock down.
With Thom O’Driscoll and Niall Lennon taking more control in the middle of the park, Spartak began to set up more attacks in the second period, but all too frequently fell into the home side’s offside trap.
The introduction of Keith Kelly, for the injured Ciaran Keane, proved pivotal. Neither of his finishes could be called powerful, but both were on target. The first where Darren Ritchie’s touch sent him through; with Jeff Gamble square, Keith opted for the shot, and it trickled weakly under the keeper. The second, in injury time, saw Thom O’Driscoll’s free kick cleverly pick out Keith, who swiveled and fired a looping effort with his hitherto unused left foot which the keeper allowed dip over his head.
The home side had poured forward after Spartak took the lead, but the Spartak defence shook off their first half lethargy, and stood firm. The third goal permitted no comeback, as the ref blew for time as Portmarnock restarted.
A welcome three points and a boost before next week’s cup tie versus Seaford Rock.
All are hoping for a speedy recovery for Mick Costello, detained in hospital with a broken arm.
Mick Costello 7 Dave Browne 6 Mick Greene 6 Steve Browne 7 Fintan Grace 7 Thom O’Driscoll 8 Martin Costello 6 Jeff Gamble 6 Darren Ritchie 6 Niall Lennon 7 Ciaran Keane 6
Subs: Keith Kelly 7 Tom Maher 6