Arlington brought the curtain down on their first league campaign back in the top flight with a midweek trip to local rivals Mountmellick hoping for a win that would see them rise to third in the table, but the hosts fought back from a sluggish first half to collect all three points at Conor Davis Park.
CCFL Senior Division
Mountmellick Utd 3
When the two sides met in the corresponding fixture in Port back in August, Mountmellick’s fine early form had disposed of the fledgling Arlington men and that seemed like it was going to be the case here again when United took the lead with only five minutes gone.
Mark Goodwin won possession at the back and found his brother Pauric in midfield. He in turn teed up Robbie Hibbitts who split the Arlington defence with a dead-weight pass into the path of Eddie Melia. There was still plenty to do but Melia set himself for the shot and placed a cool finish past stand-in keeper Brian O’Mahoney to hand the home side the perfect start.
Unfortunately for Mountmellick, that was as good as got in the opening half as they lost their way and allowed Arlington to take control of the remaining forty minutes. With Dave Thorpe and Joe Gorman both showing strongly, the Port outfit enjoyed the lions share of possession and that finally brought about the equaliser just before the half hour mark. The United defence were caught in possession and although James Gallagher’s effort from the edge of the area was clawed away by Matsy Forde, the rebound fell to the feet of Darryl Foy who slotted home.
Arlington quickly looked to build on that momentum and with eight minutes of the half remaining they grabbed their second goal after the hosts again failed to clear their lines. Foy’s sweeping corner was only half-cleared and right-back Joe Tully was in the right place to poke a shot beyond the sea of bodies and into the roof of the Mountmellick net. United looked like a shadow of the side that they can be but that changed after the restart as they got their passing game going and Arlington were on the back foot for much of the second period.
They managed to hold firm for most of it, helped by some erratic Mountmellick finishing and a lack of that killer ball in the final third but just when it looked like the visitors would hold onto their lead, it all slipped through their fingers.
Mountmellick’s equaliser came with just seven minutes to go when a high ball in from Robbie Hibbitts enticed Brian O’Mahoney off his line. He managed to get a decent fist on it to clear the immediate danger but unfortunately for him the clearance landed right at the feet of Eddie Melia who doubled his tally with a sweetly struck side-footed effort that arrowed into the back of the net.
And United weren’t happy with just the one point. They kept pouring forward and when a huge ball in from Matsy Forde caused chaos in the Arlington defence, Shane Dowling somehow emerged with the ball still at his feet and he fired home from close range to steal the win for United. Arlington’s dismal second-half was compounded with the late sending-off of influential midfielder Dave Thorpe for a second bookable offence and United’s second league win on the bounce should set the up for a much more respectable league position.
Mountmellick Utd: Matsy Forde, Cathal Cleary, Shane Shortall, Jason Fitzgibbon, Mark Goodwin, Pauric Goodwin (Robbie Ryan ‘81), Shane O’Connell, John Watchorne (Mark Parkinson ‘65), Robbie Hibbitts, Shane Dowling, Eddie Melia.
Arlington: Brian O’Mahoney, Lorcan Carey, Joe Tully, Colin Doyle, Alan Kelly, Dave Thorpe, Oleg Shiskarev, Joe Gorman, James Gallagher, Darryl Foy.
Referee: Alan Dunne