THREE goals from the outstanding Robbie Hibbitts secured a crucial win for Mountmellick and a vital three points as they continue to battle against relegation.
CCFL Senior Division
Mountmellick Utd 3
In perfect conditions under floodlights in the excellent surrounds of Villa Park, Killavilla took the lead after 16 minutes but Hibbitts scored either side of half-time and added a third ten minutes from time to seal the win.
On the night he was the best player on the field and not just because he scored the all important goals. His work-rate throughout was exceptional and he drove his team on from start to finish.
Mountmellick rode their luck at times and could easily have been two down before Hibbitts got them back in the game. However in the second half they defended superbly and to their credit they never sat back on their lead and continued to attack right up to the final whistle.
The result ends any lingering hopes Killavilla may have had of finishing in the top two and it leaves them in danger of being dragged into the relegation battle.
The game started well for them and they should have been ahead after six minutes when a mistake from goalkeeper Martin Forde gifted a chance to Shane Moloney but the striker couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.
Mountmellick created their first chance after 11 minutes when Jordan Williamson was put through by Robbie Hibbitts but Aaron Ryan got back well to cover.
With quarter of an hour on the clock Killavilla took the lead when a ball in from substitute Craig Phelan bounced wickedly in front of Martin Forde and Paul Kirwan was on hand to put the lose ball into the back of the net.
Mountmellick almost equalised immediately when the ball broke to Eddie Melia after a great run by Eoin George but his shot went over the bar.
On the half hour mark they came close again but a shot from Mark Goodwin on the angle was well saved by Keith McMahon.
Killavilla almost doubled their lead in bizzare circumstances after 39 minutes when an attempted clearance by Martin Forde was blocked by Paul Kirwan but the ‘keeper recovered to gather the ball just before it crossed the line.
At the other end Mountmellick continued to press and they were gifted their way back into the game when a long free launched forward created confusion in the Killavilla defence and Robbie Hibbitts took full advantage rolling the ball into the empty net.
That goal came two minutes before the break and two minutes after the restart Mountmellick were in front. Killavilla defender Clifford Cordial had done brilliantly to clear off his own line however as he flung himself bravely in front of the follow up shot, he was deemed to have handled the ball although it didn’t look as if there was any intent. Robbie Hibbitts made no mistake from the spot as he calmly dispatched it to the bottom right corenr of the net after sending Keith McMahon the wrong way.
Chances were at a premium in the next 20 minutes but Mountmellick should have doubled their lead on the hour mark when a clearance from Keith McMahon was blocked but Mark Goodwin’s instinctive volley flashed across the goal.
There was plenty of niggle throughout the game and it flared up in the secon-half with a brief scirmish involving a number of players but it soon calmed down and the players got on with playing football.
Killavilla were struggling to create goal scoring opportunities against a resolute Mountmellick back four while at the other end Mountmellick should have wrapped up the game 15 minutes from time when a wicked cross from Robbie Hibbitts just missed the head of Eoin George and Mark Goodwin slid in to narrowly put the ball wide.
Killavilla came very close to equalising at the other end but after a save from Martin Forde, Mountmellick somehow managed to scramble the ball clear.
At this point the game still hung in the balance but with ten minutes to go Robbie Hibbitts completed his hat-trick and wrapped up the points for his side.
He ran on to a long ball out of defence and controlled it instantly. Just inside the left corner of the penalty area and with a defender between himself and the goal, Hibbitts turned right, left and right again before curling an exquisite shot into the bottom corner of the net giving Keith McMahon no chance.
That came with ten minutes to go and while Killavilla continued to press, they never got a clean sight of the Mountmellick goal as the visitors held on for a crucial win
Killavilla: Keith McMahon; Clifford Cordial, Raymond McNicholas, Brian Franks, Aaron Ryan, Darren O’Connor, David McNamara, Paul Franks, Shane Moloney, Paul Kirwan, David Nash. Subs: Craig Phelan for Brian Franks (14mins), Robbie Ryan for David McNamara (HT), John McCarty for Paul Franks (60mins), Reilly Collins for Shane Moloney (64mins), Brain Kealy for Raymond McNicholas (70mins)
Mountmellick: Martin Forde; Laurence Kenny, Shane O’Connell, Cathal Cleary, Mark Parkinson, John Watchorne, Eddie Melia, Eoin George, Robbie Hibbitts, Mark Goodwin, Jordan Williamson