Down Juniors 1 v Global Premier Soccer 4 – 30 Jul 2019
After falling to opening day defeats, both the Down side and their American counterparts were equally clear that if their tournament chances were to remain on track, a win was needed in this fixture.
From the outset both sets of players demonstrated they were keen to play football on the immaculate surface, with it not taking long for the Down boys to engineer their first clear opportunity.
Powering down the right hand side, Joe Hopes spied Morrow inside the box, who latched onto the cross and struck an effort that agonisingly cannoned of the post, with the GPS keeper well beaten.
Shearer was next to go close after Rolleston floated a freekick into the box, but his effort was to go wide of the net after the Glentoran player went off balance while turning to get his attempt away.
In a rare attack GPS made their way into the final third of the pitch on 9 minutes. Danger appeared to have been averted when the ball was placed at the feet of Burns in the Down net, however a mistake gifted the GPS striker with the easiest of finishes to give his side the lead.
Not to be dismayed McAlister’s players regrouped and were soon on the attack again, however Shearer’s header lacked any venom at the back left post.
Too much confidence in playing out from the back almost cost GPS on 15 mins, with the Down forward line closing the ball down well, which offered up an opportunity to Atchison, only to see his chance saved well.
GPS themselves were unlucky not to extend their lead following a long ball into the box from the left hand side, which alluded not just the Down defence, but the American’s forward line.
With the half-time whistle approaching the Down players attempted to grab their illusive first goal, however an attempt from Sloan went high over the bar, before the Referee waved away claims of a handball inside the box, as the first half action came to a close.
It was a flying start straight from kick-off for GPS, with them winning a corner in the opening minute. Failing to clear the ball sufficiently saw the ball fall to the American’s centre half, who made no mistake as he doubled his sides lead, with his shot coming to rest in the top right hand corner of the net.
Urged on by Manager McAlister and his backroom staff, the Down boys pushed hard to get back into the game, with Morrow’s effort from two yards out somehow making its way into the GPS keeper’s hands.
With 12 mins gone, Sloan was brought down in the box, with the Referee given no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Stepping up was the impressive Shearer, who blasted the ball into the net, offering his side hope of a deserved comeback.
Now chasing their second, Whightman played a delightful ball from the right onto Shearer’s head, however he could not find the direction to land it in the goal.
After soaking up the pressure, it was GPS’s turn to counter attack down the left hand. Cries for an offside went unheard, with the resulting shot being sent past Burns to restore the two goal deficit.
It was further misery only a minute later after Down failed to clear, with a further long range shot getting the better of Burns again, extending the scoreline to 4-1.
As Down push further forward in the closing stages there was always going to be the risk of leaving gaps at the back, which almost cost them further, however the post came to the rescue.
Despite continuing to push right to the end, it was simply not to be for Down, with few leaving the Riada complex in any doubt that the scoreline did not reflect the performance put in by the players.