Fairview Rangers hosted a disappointing scoreless draw with Pike Rovers to extend the Hoops’ winless — and goalless — run to four league games.
The first post-Christmas round of fixtures often produces poor fare, and this one was no different. Spectators’ January blues were compounded by the plethora of misplaced passes and heavy touches on display in Fairview this morning, with Pike proving particularly incapable of working the ball from back to front.
Without all-rounder Steven McGann, Eddie O’Donovan and co. chose Wayne Colbert and John Boyle in the central midfield positions, neither of whom are renowned for their playmaking abilities.
While Paul O’Donnell’s side made some ground down the right flank through B player Christy Hogan in the early going, the Hoops ran into trouble in the middle regularly, with Colbert particularly guilty of giving the ball away cheaply.
The pressing of Fairview’s number 10 Darragh Rainsford, one of the few players on the park who looked near full capacity, made Pike’s task even more difficult, and it was his free-kick that forced an excellent near-post save from Gary Neville midway through the half.
Despite looking the poorer of two struggling teams, Pike did however fashion the best chance of the half. Eoin Hanrahan nipped ahead of Steven Conway at the back-post, but failed to head home Wayne O’Donovan’s cross from deep.
O’Donovan was gifted a huge opportunity to create an even clearer-cut chance later in the half, when John Mullane gave up possession in his own penalty-area, but the right-back unwisely chose to shoot rather than square — a piece of decision-making that unfortunately summed up the half.
Although coping without the absent Paudie Quinn, David Hannon, and Bobby Tier — goalscorer in last season’s 2-0 home win over the same opposition — Fairview were sporting a new goalkeeper, in former Limerick shotstopper Shane Cusack.
But Rangers’ latest transfer market capture — preferred to the previously impressive Peter Healy — did not cover himself in glory with fifteen minutes remaining, when he got caught under Wayne O’Donovan’s back-post corner that Hanrahan headed inches over to spare his blushes.
Hanrahan, initially stationed on the left-flank, swapped with Arron Nunan during the first-half, before being asked to vacate his right-wing position for number 10 Colin Daly and join Cian Collins up top during the second stanza.
Although Daly was hardly firing on all cylinders, removing he and Hanrahan from their preferred zones of influence seemed unlikely to improve Pike’s attacking play — as did the bizarre decision to remove both in favour of John Connery and Shane Walsh, when others were far more deserving of the hook.
The hosts, for their part, removed their wingers in favour of Christy Doyle and George Daffy, and it was the latter who would waste a huge late chance to win the game, and increase his lead as Fairview’s top goalscorer in the process.
Rainsford, the hosts’ brightest player — save for returning centre-back Brian Fitzgerald — sauntered past both occupants of Pike’s right-flank, and delivered a low left-footed cross for the unmarked Croom man to poke wide at the near post.
Rainsford, who dispossessed a hesitant Colbert twice in the first-half — one of which led to a subsequent Colbert foul and yellow card — also repeated the trick a third time late on, before bombing forward and shooting well wide from range.
That wild effort, unfortunately, stood as yet another example of poor decision-making, encapsulating what was a desperately poor game of football from two sides with a lot of work to do behind the scenes.
Man of the Match