Janesboro maintained their 100% LDL Premier Division record with a hard-earned victory over a resolute Moyross United.
Moyross has suffered no shortage of attractive football since United’s 2014 accession to the Premier Division, but defensive structure has regularly been the northside club’s downfall.
Janesboro may therefore have been surprised to meet an ultra-compact Moyross eleven, that denied them even an ounce of midfield space in which to play football.
Forced into plenty of pointless passing between the back four by their hosts’ impenetrable defensive shape, Janesboro’s only route to goal was the direct one, as Shane Clarke demonstrated when he deftly controlled Danny O’Neill’s 5th-minute long ball and tested Ronan Power in the Moyross goal.
Although Frank Hogan’s side displayed excellent organisational qualities, their attacking transitions were poor. One of the rare occasions in which the first pass out of defence didn’t go astray saw former Coonagh marksman Ger Myles mishit Barry Quinn’s low cross on the edge of the Janesboro area.
Moyross’ successful containment exercise was almost undone in the 20th minute however, when an injured Kevin O’Connell – crouching down on the byline – appeared to play Shane Clarke onside off a through ball. Fortunately for the northsiders, referee Ryan McCann (and the majority of the watching public!) failed to notice O’Connell before the whistle was blown.
Bereft of width to stretch Moyross’ sardine-like defensive unit in the absence of Mike Ryan, Janesboro continued to turn to the direct approach, but their chosen 4-1-4-1 shape rendered most of the headers and flick-ons that Shane Clarke won moot.
When Clarke dropped deep, turned, and threaded a through pass to no-one in the 33rd minute, the folly of withdrawing the returning John Tierney from his preferred number ten role was underlined.
Luckily for managers Shane O’Hanlon and Aidan Ryan, one of their attacking standouts from the season’s opening weeks saw that wasted chance and learned from it. Seconds later, Clarke was permitted to turn and play the same through pass again; this time Arron Nunan made a wonderful diagonal run off the left wing, in between the Moyross centre-backs, to meet it and score.
At the start of the second-half, Janesboro responded to their final third difficulties by pushing Tierney up behind Clarke, but their hosts continued to limit chance-creation.
Unfortunately, just before the hour-mark, midfielder Colm O’Mahony made a completely unnecessary challenge from behind on Clarke in the Moyross area, allowing the ‘Boro striker to convert his 5th goal of the season from the spot.
Configured to frustrate, Moyross found it difficult to change their approach and chase Janesboro’s lead. The visitors made sure of the result with 15 minutes remaining, when Nunan profited from Moyross’ failure to clear a Tierney corner-kick to pocket his 4th goal of the season from close-range.
The hosts endured further pain when Clarke teed up Tierney to add a fourth goal on the break, but also provided the game with quite the exclamation mark, when substitute Stephen ‘Munchy’ Hannon collected Quinn’s pass, flicked it up, and volleyed its last kick in off John Mulready’s crossbar.
Hannon 90+2′; Nunan 34′, 76′, S. Clarke (pen) 59′, Tierney 85′
Man of the Match