Everton 1 Mallow United 2
MALLOW United are through to the semi-finals of the U16 Joma Sportsgear Direct Local Cup as they came from behind to defeat Everton 2-1 in a highly entertaining cup tie at Coffey’s Field on Sunday morning.
A brilliant goal from Conor Varian had given Everton the lead early in the first half but second-half finishes from Shane Cronin and a Jamie O’Neill penalty was enough to secure Mallow’s place in the final four where they will meet Midleton.
The visitors started the game on the front foot and Shane Cronin had their first sight at goal inside the opening minutes but his tame strike failed to trouble goalkeeper Mark Lashkul.
And against the run of play, Everton took the lead thanks to a well-taken goal from Conor Varian.
The winger raced onto a pass in behind the United defence before expertly clipping his shot over the on-rushing keeper Denis Mulcahy and into the far bottom-right corner of his net.
Mallow, to their credit, responded well to that setback and they almost grabbed an equaliser within minutes of falling behind.
Midfielder Liam Welch picked out Cronin in a good position but the number nine’s thunderous hit produced a sensational save from Lashkul, who stretched to stop the ball from finding his far top left corner.
The home side always looked dangerous in attack and they were desperately unfortunate not to double their advantage midway through the half.
Defender Cody Lawson did well to control a corner kick to the back post but shortly after his quick-fire volley was palmed away by the shot-stopper, winger Zack Walsh blasted his powerful rebound against the left upright from close range.
Despite Mallow having the majority of the possession, it was Everton that again went close to scoring the crucial second goal of the game before the break.
Another superb cross into the box caused Mallow problems and again they were lucky to be saved by their woodwork as Varian’s towering header crashed against the top of the crossbar.
United upped the tempo at the beginning of the second 40 as they looked to keep their cup hopes alive and they soon got their reward as they finally made it 1-1 just shy of the hour mark.
After left-back Darragh O’Connor surged into the penalty area and was subsequently fouled by a worried defence, forward Jamie O’Neill took responsibility for the spot-kick and coolly dispatched it into the bottom left corner.
Liam Welch sent a fierce drive just wide of the near post from the edge of the box moments later as Mallow sensed the win was there for the taking.
And with eight minutes to go, they snatched what proved to be the winner with a brilliant finish from Shane Cronin, who casually slotted Jamie O’Neill’s pass into the far bottom-right corner to send his side through to the semis.