The ‘Scholars’ returned from their mid winter break suitably refreshed and determined to continue where they left off.
A cold afternoon and a meagre crowd of 103 saw the visitors soon into their stride looking secure at the back and probing from the mid field. Carl McCluskey now back in defence was assuredly dealing with anything into the box but initial attempts going forward were from outside the box – one effort from Chris Doyle was well struck but straight at the keeper.
On 17 mins the first goal of 2017 arrived – good work down the middle saw Eoin Casey and Michael Murray play the ball out to Ashley Nathaniel-George who went down the left wing, cut into the box down going to the bye-line past defenders to square for Eoin Casey coming in at the near post to slam home a low shot to give the visitors a deserved lead.
Ashley Nathaniel-George and Max Holland were finding space down both wings and getting into dangerous positions but the final ball was being cleared by the defence.
The home side struggled to threaten Ravan Constable in the visitor’s goal – the defence dealing quickly with any attempts – Sean Grace heading clear and Jordan Laval intercepting.
But half time arrived with the home side struggling to undermine the good team work of the visitors.
Three minutes into the second half and the visitors scored their second. The ball was again played out wide to Ashley Nathaniel-George who took on and beat three defenders cutting into the box from the left and as he approached the six yard box shot low and hard to find the right hand corner of the net.
The cry was ‘Bar Army’ from two stands!
Michael Murray then had the keeper scrambling to push away a shot as the ‘Scholars’ continued to control the game.
On the hour mark Joe Bennett replaced Max Holland and then the home side made it harder for themselves when their forward Matt Wood received a second yellow and the home side were down to ten.
The home side dug in and play centred on the middle but Chris Doyle was influential in midfield looking to open up their defence and also have efforts on goal.
Finally with the home side trying to push forward there was more space.
First Joe Bennett won the ball and went on a run down the centre forcing a good save from the keeper and the game was finally secured in the 83rd and 84th minutes. Joe Bennett repeated his earlier run but this time passing to Eoin Casey to struck firmly home into the bottom right hand corner and a third mazy run from Joe Bennett saw him beat the keeper finding the same corner.
Then the visitors eased up and allowed the home side more of the ball. Ravan Constable made one good save before Wayne Carter scored a consolation goal on 88 mins.
But overall an impressive start to the second half of the season.
The ‘Scholars' up to sixth but still four points off the play off places, but a team in form.
Team: Ravan Constable, Billy Baird, Will Wambeek, Carl McCluskey, Sean Grace, Jordan Lawal, Max Holland (Joe Bennett 60 mins), Chris Doyle, Michael Murray (Ryan Forde 85 mins, Eoin Casey, Ashley Nathaniel-George.
Sub unused: Garry Jones, Tom Boxer
Man of the Match: ‘A.N-G’