Town earn a vital point in their battle for league safety

Stuart King in action. INBL1617-256PB
Stuart King in action. INBL1617-256PB

Crystal Park was bathed in bright sunshine as Town welcomed table-toppers PSNI for their last home league game of the current season.

With both teams having a lot to play for in what has turned out to be an incredibly tight league, a repeat of the six goal thriller in October was unlikely but a hard fought contest was expected.

Ryan Moffatt hurdles a challenge. INBL1617-255PB

Ryan Moffatt hurdles a challenge. INBL1617-255PB

A win for Town would secure their place in this division next season.

Manager Ryan Watson was forced to make changes to his starting line up with Matthew McCartan and Stuart Thompson both unavailable due to injuries.

James Wilson came back in a right back with Glen Waddell starting at centre half and Chris McGrath, playing through the pain barrier, returning to centre midfield.

PSNI’s main goal-scoring threat has been Adamczyk and Town had to keep a tight rein on him if they were to get something from this game.

Damian McParland takes the ball forward. INBL1617-252PB

Damian McParland takes the ball forward. INBL1617-252PB

The first chance fell to PSNI when Moody got on the end of a through ball but he fired over from in front of goal.

Town were battling hard and coming more into the game; a foul on Chris McGrath saw Stuart King take a quick free kick to release Conor Downey on the right and he brushed off two defenders before unleashing a powerful shot which PSNI keeper Williamson could only parry, the ball falling to a defender who cleared upfield.

King, Moffatt and Ryan Gourley linked well with Gourley delivering a cross to Downey on the edge of the visitors’ area but his first time shot went wide.

On 23 minutes Town went ahead; a header from McParland was picked up by Downey who held off three defenders as he drove into the penalty area where he was brought down, the ref pointing straight to the penalty spot.

Ryan Moffatt stepped forward to take the spot kick, his shot into the right corner giving the keeper no chance.

The visitors responded by piling the pressure on the Town goal but their tactics of high balls into the box were comfortably dealt with by Town’s defence.

Town created the first chance of the second half, a Stuart King shot from distance going just over.

On 50 minutes PSNI then had a great opportunity when a free from the left was only parried by Murphy and the ball was headed back into the area but the ball was eventually scrambled clear.

On 12 minutes PSNI were level when they were awarded a penalty. Another high ball from the right to Adamczyk saw the striker take a touch which took the ball away from goal but as he did so Murphy, who had come for the same ball, bumped into him; the ref awarded a penalty which was scored by Adamczyk.

Both teams pushed for the all important second goal and it was end to end football but neither side could create an opening.

The last five minutes of the game saw Town pile the pressure on the PSNI goal; Barr shot wide after some good build up play, a free kick saw James Wilson release Kingsberry on the right and his cross was turned goalwards by Barr and cleared for a corner.

Stuart King’s delivery was punched clear to McParland whose volleyed shot was blocked for another corner.

With only seconds remaining King delivered a great ball into the box to Stephen Greene whose glancing header was inches wide of the post. The ref blew for full time and the draw was probably a fair result after an entertaining hard fought game.

The point gained for Town, along with other results moved them up one place to sixth.

BTFC: Murphy, Moffatt, Greene, Waddell, Wilson, Gourley, (Barr 75), McParland, Anderson, McGrath, (Kingsberry 65), King, Downey. Subs unused: Pedlow, Buchanan, Smith.