The match between Cherry Orchard and First Choice Soccer (FCS) was certainly a game of 2 halves, as the points were shared at a wet Rugby Avenue in Coleraine.
It was the Dubliners who started the game the best with some early pressure, although not really troubling the FCS keeper. Despite this early pressure, they had allowed the Americans back into the game, mainly by giving away some silly fouls in the final 3rd, putting their backline under pressure from set pieces.
It was actually a clearance from one of the set pieces which had led to their first goal. A punt out of the Cherry Orchard defence upfield caused havoc in the FCS defence and the ball fell to Emmanuel Odeniyi who slammed the ball home to give Orchard the lead.
Besides on chance for FCS when Ijah Halley should have done better after being put through, the first half did not provide a lot in terms of entertainment. Orchard were trying to play the ball long to Odeniyi, but he was being well handled by the FCS defence after his goal. In contrast, FCS had some neat touches in the middle of the park but the Orchard defence was too solid, and they could not find a way through.
The Americans knew they needed to be better in the second half and they threw caution to the wind, making 3 substitutes at half time. This changed the shape of their team and completely opened the game up, leading to a second half which was end to end entertainment. The equaliser came when a free kick by Sean Costa was not dealt with by the Orchard defence, the ball dropped to substitute Will Pucek who rifled a low shot by Kian Moore.
First Choice had a god spell of pressure after this but, again, the final ball was just lacking. In response, Cherry Orchard had brought on Kevin O ‘ Reilly, whose excellent play on the left wing was causing major problems for the FCS right back. He set up a couple of good chances for fellow sub Clinton Sulaiman, but a combination of poor finishing and fine goalkeeping thwarted the Orchard striker on a number of occasions.
There continued to be a host of good chances but neither side could net the winner as the full time whistle sounded. Both teams will probably feel they had chances to win this game, but a draw was a fair result in the end.
By Ray Baxter