Mons Battle The Blizzard To Make Winning Start

18 March 2011 No Comments by The Northern Standard

Monaghan United 2
Waterford United 0

Roddy Collins’ tenure as Monaghan United manager started positively at Gortakeegan on Friday night as his side battled through blizzard conditions to a hard-fought 2-0 victory over putative promotion rivals Waterford United, writes Peter Hughes.
It wasn’t until substitute John Reilly rifled home in the closing minutes that the Mons had a secure grip on a victory set up by Alan Byrne’s emphatic close-in finish in the first half.
Waterford, deprived of creative impetus by the loss of Colin Sinnott early in the game, were short on inspiration but heavy on endeavour, and had subjected United to a barrage of late pressure until undone by that breakaway winner.
The new boss’s earlier press conference promise to the fans of edge-of-their-seat football had to be put on hold because of the elements. The incessant downpour of sleety rain that turned to snow in the second half rendered it a night for fortitude rather than finesse.
United, with four new players in their starting line-up, often looked a side in the process of reconstruction, but Collins will have been impressed by the tough-it-out dimension they found to their game.
And the new boss in turn impressed with an influential adjustment to the Mons attacking deployment in the second half, pushing Jason Marks infield to forage alongside Shane Barrett, who until then had struggled to impose himself as the spearhead of a 4-3-3 formation that never really gelled.
A dull opening half-hour saw United create only one chance of any note, a Shane Grimes overlap ending with a low cross that Ryan Brennan almost latched onto but was adjudged to have fouled Waterford ‘keeper Kevin Burns in the process.
Waterford were slightly more productive, Sinnott following up a bobbling 10th minute effort with a fine run from deep in midfield and the unleash of a right-foot drive that was only narrowly wide. Gary Dunphy also got a speculative long-range volley on target but it failed to trouble Gabriel Sava in the United nets.
Sinnott came close to sending Waterford in front on 26 minutes, spinning on the ball in the box and firing a shot that was taken over the bar by a deflection. The Mons were subjected to some severe pressure from the resultant corner until Paul Murphy drove a shot wide.
On 31 minutes United captain Don Tierney conceded a free-kick at the corner of his side’s box, allowing Gary Dunphy to thunder in a shot that the astutely positioned Sava cushioned in his grasp.
The home side then mustered a sustained flurry of attacking play, and found themselves ahead as a result. Jason Marks opened Waterford up on their right flank, and when his cross was only half-cleared to the vicinity of Sean Brennan, the United No.9 struck a fearsome shot that thundered off the post. Waterford couldn’t clear, and Alan Byrne pounced in the six-yard box to convert.
Sinnott, the one bright creative light in Stephen Henderson’s side, limped off just after the goal, Shane Dempsey his replacement, and the visitors had an uneasy passage to the half-time whistle, only Kenny Browne’s goal-line intervention preventing a Dave Rogers header from Marks’ cross finding the net.
As the weather appreciably worsened in the second half, what had never really been a display of attractive football settled into a test of endurance – and of nerves, as the underfoot conditions made the area around both penalty boxes minefields for defenders.

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