COUNTY FERMANAGH: Josh Gordon, Ronan Quinn, Eoin Beacom, Ronan Beattie, Joshua McKenna, Alex Holder, Lorcan McStravick, Caolan Ward, Jonathan Cassidy, Jamie Robinson, Nathan Beckett.
EVERTON: Aaron Jones, Callum Lees, Morgan Feeney, Alex Denny, Joe Piggott, Con Ouzounidis, Kyle Porter, Tom Barker, Liam Morris, Steven Duke-McKenna, Fraser Hornby.
A brace from Steven Duke-McKenna ensured Everton staged a second half turnaround to defeat County Fermanagh by two goals to one at Ballymena Showgrounds after trailing one nil at half time to a strike from Lorcan McStravick.
The Blues from Merseyside started the brighter of the two sides and could have had the lead as early as the first minute, Fraser Hornby and Tom Barker combined well straight from the kick off, but the latter was unable to get his shot away in time allowing Fermanagh goalkeeper Josh Gordon to gather comfortably.
Everton continued to press, and on 12 minutes it took a superb goal line clearance from Fermanagh left back Ronan Quinn to keep the scores level. The game then entered a lull with neither side threatening to create any meaningful chances before the deadlock was finally broken two minutes before the break. In Fermanagh’s first real opportunity of the match, Lorcan McStravick collected the ball deep inside the Everton half, drove forward before feinting past a defender and unleashing a superb strike beyond the outstretched reach of Blues goalkeeper Aaron Jones. McStravick’s strike partner Caolan Ward then went on a marauding run through the Everton defence which drew loud appreciation from the crowd, but he couldn’t force an effort on goal.
The second half began with a flurry of Everton chances, as the Merseysiders sought to bring parity to the scoreline. With 32 minutes on the clock, they did just that as Tom Barker converted Steven Duke-McKenna’s cross from the left hand side. Further efforts from Fraser Hornby and Tom Barker saw the woodwork rattled and Fermanagh goalkeeper Josh Gordon called into action as Everton went in search of a winner.
Goalscorer Steven Duke-McKenna could have doubled his return for the afternoon on 34 minutes after being found in space by a sweet pass from Joe Piggott, but the Everton number 9 skewed his effort wide of the target from inside the box. Piggott himself was next to threaten after a mix up by Josh Gordon in the Fermanagh goal but the ball was eventually scrambled to safety. The County side finally crumbled under relentless pressure with 42 minutes on the clock. A cross from the right caused havoc in the box with Steven Duke-McKenna on hand to take advantage and score his second goal of the game.
Fermanagh protested that there was a foul on goalkeeper Josh Gordon in the build up to the goal, and they may have had a point as he played no further part in proceedings, being forced to come off injured.
Fermanagh stepped up a gear as the game neared its conclusion and should have been level on 48 minutes only for centre back Eoin Beacom to inexplicably fail to connect with a cross from Alex Holder when the slightest of touches would almost certainly have resulted in a goal. A late free kick from Ronan Quinn nestled just over the bar as Everton held out to record their first win of the tournament so far.
Report by Jordan Miller.