MSL soccer: Everton dig deep for victory in Junior League Cup clash

Goals from Pender, Coughlan and O'Sullivan seal win over Avondale
MSL soccer: Everton dig deep for victory in Junior League Cup clash

Avondale United's Ryan O’Brien and Everton's  Lawrence Fitzpatrick battle for possession during their Beamish Stout Junior League Cup game in Avondale Park. Picture: Jim Coughlan

Avondale United 0

Everton 3

EVERTON got their Beamish Stout Junior League Cup campaign off to a winning start when they beat Avondale United at Avondale Park on Thursday evening.

The Togher side saw their opening game with Douglas Hall abandoned after 35 minutes last week when they were leading 1-0 and they will be pleased with this victory, one that was hard-fought and hard-earned from start to finish.

Avondale beat Carrigaline United 3-0 in their group 1 opener last week and they will feel aggrieved not to have gotten something from this tie.

The scoreline flattered Everton somewhat, but the visitors worked hard for their victory in a game bookended by two fabulous goals, in the first minute and in injury-time, with their second, a fortunate effort, coming late in the game which knocked the stuffing out of Avondale.

Avondale had chances to get back into the game, particularly in the second half, but a solid Everton defence, coupled with some of top-class saves from keeper Cian Hammond helped them to a fine victory.

Everton couldn’t have asked for a better start; they opened the scoring after a minute when Kevin Keeler and Lawrence Fitzpatrick combined in midfield before the latter threaded the ball in behind the Dales’ defence for Kian Pender to run on to.

Avondale keeper Cian Hartnett was quickly off his line, closing down the space, but the young striker kept a cool head and rolled the ball through Hartnett’s legs before running on to tap it home.

Everton had the better of the early exchanges with Gary O’Brien and Billy Kadima both working openings on the left, resulting in shots from difficult angles that were saved and went into the side netting respectively.

That was in the opening 10 minutes, but Avondale responded well when Mark O’Connell’s cross on the right was met by Niall Brennan, but his header on the far side of the penalty area was saved by Hartnett.

Avondale had a good chance to level matters just before the first water break when good approach play saw Brian Lyons release Greg Murphy through the middle, but he pushed his shot wide under pressure from an Everton defender.

The home side grew into the game, and Avondale dangerman Mark O’Connell found himself in space on the half-hour mark on the right of the Everton box, but he drove his shot across the goal and wide.

Avondale continued to press for a way back into the game after the break and Murphy had a shot in the box well blocked by Hammond with Kevin McSweeney putting the rebound over the bar.

At the other end Pender latched on to a loose ball in the box after the ball broke to him, but he couldn’t direct it on target and it went over the crossbar.

Everton’s goal came under threat again a number of times in the second half. Defender Kevin McCarthy made an important block on a Bryan Lyons shot, Rob O’Sullivan cleared off the line, and Hammond made a fine save to tip Murphy’s shot from the edge of the penalty area over for a corner.

A McSweeney header tested the Hammond who got down well to save with his right hand as Avondale applied the pressure in search of an equaliser.

But as can happen so often, the home side were hit by a counter-attack. A high clearance out of defence saw substitute and former Avondale man Dean Coughlan win possession from his marker wide on the right.

Looking up, he tried to find Jake Hourihane on the far side of the penalty area, but his cross, instead, went into the nett off Harnett’s far post.

Normal time was almost up at that stage and the goal knocked the life out of any Avondale comeback. Things got worse for the hosts in injury-time when Gordon O’Sullivan intercepted a loose Avondale pass 35 yards from goal and, spotting Hartnett off his line, he drove the ball over the keeper’s head and under the crossbar for a victory that currently gives Everton the edge on their rivals in what is an extremely competitive group.

AVONDALE UNITED: Cian Hartnett, Gavin Falvey, Dave O’Keeffe, Kevin McSweeney, Ryan O’Brien, Bryan Lyons, Greg Murphy, Michael Carroll, Mark O’Connell, Ray Murphy, Niall Brennan.

Subs: Diarmuid O’Shea for Ray Murphy (57), Alex Burke for Greg Murphy (61), Rory McCarthy for Lyons (61), Kevin O’Regan for Falvey (79), Daniel Kelleher for McCarthy (85 inj).

EVERTON: Cian Hammond, Gordon O’Sullivan, Eoin O’Keeffe, Adam O’Donoghue, Kevin McCarthy, Robert O’Sullivan, Lawrence Fitzpatrick, Kian Pender, Billy Kadima, Gary O’Brien, Kevin Keeler.

Subs: Roy Fitzgibbon for Fitzpatrick (56 inj), Dean Coughlan for Pender (66), Jake Hourihane for Keeler (73), Wayne Hogan for Kadima (80), Ronan Scully for Fitzgibbon (85 inj).

Referee: Anthony Buttimer.

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