MERVUE UNITED 2
FINN HARPS 2
JASON BYRNE at Fahy’s Field
THE chance to pull clear at the top of the Airtricity League First Division table eluded them, but Mervue United continued their unbeaten start to the season thanks to a gritty 2-2 draw with nearest challengers Finn Harps on Friday night.
Despite Mervue leading 2-0 at half time thanks to goals from youngsters Ryan Manning and Brendan Lavelle, the Donegal side always looked dangerous and clawed their way back into the contest to earn a hard-fought point in front of 400 cold supporters.
The blues spurned a great chance to hit the front after just three minutes when Tommy McBride’s cross was headed inches wide by Sean McCarron in an early warning for the hosts.
Both sides were reluctant to show their true attacking threats but 20 minutes later, Mervue pounced on an error give them the initiative. Shaun McGowan’s back-pass was much too weak for goalkeeper Ciaran Gallagher and 16 year-old Manning darted in to collect the ball to round Gallagher and tap into the empty net.
Two minutes later Peter Hutton’s men could have been level when Michael McSweeney lost the ball to McCarron who played in Michael Funston, but the midfielder blazed over.
A minute later Harps went on the prowl for a goal again as Marc Brolly embarked on the left flank and crossed for Kevin McHugh, but the veteran striker missed it and Martin Conneely cleared.
On the half hour mark, Harps again pushed forward and when McBride had a shot at goal Gary Curran was penalised for handball just outside the box against his old club. McHugh’s free was deflected over by King in the wall.
From the resulting corner whipped in by Brolly, Keith Cowan’s header was superbly tipped over by Gleeson. Another Harps corner was cleared, and this time Mervue darted forward on the counter.
Jason Molloy won the ball and played it to Noel Varley, who then found Paul Sinnott who had kept his run going from defence. Following a neat exchange with King, he left if for Brendan Lavelle who found the bottom corner to fire Mervue 2-0 ahead.
In the second half, Mervue were minus Manning as he was rested for Saturday’s under-17 cup tie. Harps finally got a goal back after 56 minutes when Michael Funston’s corner was bundled in by Tommy McMonagle from close range as the game burst into life.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Sentinel.