Action from the Portlaoise U-10s game against Abbeyleix.
MSL U-10 EAST
St Aengus 0
Portlaoise Athletic 3
The Portlaoise Athletic U-10s got the new year off to the perfect start with a well deserved win in a rip-roaring game away to St Aengus.
The first minute had yet to elapse before Cian Fitzpatrick coolly slotted home after some determined build up play by strike partner Jan Gdowski. This was somehow the only score of the half, as both sides created chances seemingly at will and both goals led a charmed life.
Gdowski and Fitzpatrick both went close, captain for the day Conor Bowler almost got on the end of a great Jack Murtagh through-ball and Eoghan Kennedy hit the bar after a corner wasn't cleared by the home team. St. Aengus went close themselves, hitting both post and crossbar with well worked chances and forcing Ben Peacham into a number of saves.
Alex Moore, Jack Phelan and Dawid Nowodka were kept busy at the back, while the introduction of Ethan Kelly helped Portlaoise stay on top. The second half saw Portlaoise begin to dominate, Peacham and Fitzpatrick excelling out wide and Phelan providing a constant threat up front.
It was Gdowski who finished off a cracking move for the second goal, expertly side footing home a Peacham cross after Nowodka had set him free down the left. Shortly after, Phelan pounced for a third, capitalising once again on the work rate of Gdowski who forced the error in the home defence.
Both sides could have added to the goal tally, but Portlaoise will be very happy to keep a clean sheet. It was a game that truly had everything and was, in the main, a fantastic advert for the league. A few meaty challenges aside, the game was played in an excellent spirit and both sides were a credit to their clubs and their coaches.
Squad: Ben Peacham, Alex Moore, Jack Phelan, Dawid Nowodka, Jack Murtagh, Eoghan Kennedy, Conor Bowler, Cian Fitzpatrick, Jan Gdowski, Ethan Kelly.
MSL U-10 CENTRAL
Tullamore United 0
Portlaoise Town 2
The Portlaoise Town U-10 team got the new year off to the perfect start with a 2-0 away win at Tullamore United last Saturday morning. One goal in each half from Ben Langford proving enough to beat a tough and well organised Tullamore United team.
The early kick-off in a cold Leah Victoria Park had no effect on the attitude of both sets of players who demonstrated huge energy, commitment and no little skill in what was a pulsating tie from start to finish.
The early stages were dominated by the midfield exchanges with captain for the day Cormac Harney and midfield partner Ben Langford battling for every ball against their equally committed counterparts.
As the half reached the midpoint the Portlaoise defence and midfield began to assert control on proceedings. Seán Powders, Glen Johnson, David Valainis, Brian Mullins and Emily Flynn were all very assured and began to create more space and opportunities for the attacking threat of Jack Cleland, Mark O’Connor, Aleks Zojaczkowski and Aaron McCormack.
McCormack, O’Connor and Cleland all went close to opening the scoring before Langford broke the deadlock on 15 minutes. Jack Cleland, who was excellent throughout, finding Langford in the penalty area who slotted home through a group of Tullamore players.
The second half continued as the first half ended with the visitors dominating proceedings. Despite this dominance, the home side somehow kept the score at 1-0 with some heroic defending and excellent goalkeeping.
Then, with just two minutes remaining the home side almost equalised with a rare visit to the Portlaoise half. A long range free kick, destined for the roof of the net was somehow deflected onto the crossbar by Ben Malone in the Portlaoise goal. The resultant rebound fell to the feet of a Tullamore striker who looked certain to score. However, the excellent Malone and Powders were both alert and did just enough to deflect the ball for a corner.
Portlaoise then, having dealt confidently and comfortably with the resulting corner, broke away and after some excellent interplay found Langford on the edge of the box whose low finish was top class and ensured the victory for the visitors.
Both sets of players must be congratulated for the skill levels, commitment and sportsmanship shown throughout the game which was a great advertisement for the league and a great reflection o.n their respective clubs.
Portlaoise Town: Aaron McCormack, Aleksander Zojaczkowski, Ben Langford, Ben Malone, Brian Mullins, Cormac Harney, David Valainis, Emily Flynn, Glen Johnson, Jack Cleland, Mark O'Connor, Seán Powders
MSL U-10 EAST
Portlaoise United 2
Abbeyleix Utd 1
This was the first game for both teams since the Christmas break, and it showed in the opening half.
Portlaoise settled the better of the two teams and had a lot of the early possession, but failed to convert any of their chances. Finn Dawson was captain for the day and he lead by example, starting a lot of the attacks.
Leah and Gary Brennan had little to do in the first half in the defence, while Charlie Dwyer, Dennis Browne, Danny Gavin and Harry Browne were all working hard to create chances. Conor and Ross Dunne were up front and keeping the Abbeyleix defence very busy.
With six minutes left before half-time Dennis Browne broke through down the left and shot home to put Portlaoise one up. This seemed to kick Abbeyleix into action and they started to put Portlaoise under some pressure.
They forced a few corners but Portlaoise managed them well. However, one clearance landed at an Abbeyleix players feet and he equalised with a magnificent shot that flew past the Portlaoise defence into the bottom corner of the net, giving Tom Coleman in goal no chance.
This gave Abberleix a great boost, Portlaoise were now under a lot of pressure and they were glad when the ref blew for half time.
The second half was a much more even affair with Holly Murphy, Rocco O'Reilly and Rhys Lawless all playing a big part in the Portlaoise efforts to regain the lead. With the play going from end-to-end, both defences were on top until Dennis Browne won the ball in the Abbeyleix half, cut inside and shot low to the net, making it 2-1 for Portlaoise.
That did not deter Abbeyleix, and they continued attacking to find an equaliser. Great defending by Danny Gavin, the outstanding Holly Murphy and Harry Browne, in goals for the second half dealt with everything that came their way.
Portlaoise will be happy with the 2-1 win but both sides probably feel the can play better as the second half of the season progresses.