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Strabane let two points slip after surprise collapse

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Northern Ireland Intermediate League

Strabane Athletic 4  Maiden City 4

STRABANE Athletic’s recent run of victories came to an end when Maiden City produced a superb second half fight back to earn a share of the points at Melvin Park. It was a scoreline that no one would have predicted at half time as Athletic were totally dominant and had established a 4-1 lead.

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It took Strabane 25 minutes to find the net when Conal Crawford received a nice pass from Aaron Porter and finished low to the corner of the goal. Athletic had chances galore before that with Carlin, Crawford and Brennan all going close in the first twenty minutes.

And with the deadlock broken the home team soon added another when Shane Brennan went on a great run before finding Aaron Porter with a precise pass which the centre forward tucked away nicely.

The Derry team responded in the 33rd minute when a shot from Shea Smiley was deflected past Athletic keeper Ruairi Mc Elroy.

It seemed no more than a consolation when Strabane added two more goals before half time. Firstly a cross from Conor Carlin sailed straight into the net and it was 4-1 when Aaron Porter converted again after receiving a fine ball from Conal Crawford.

Half time came and Athletic were very much in the driving seat having played some nice football and created numerous chances.

The second half started in driving wind and rain and it was Maiden City who got an early boost when Paul Smith scored from a low cross 7 minutes after the restart.

The goal encouraged the visitors and some sustained pressure caused anxious moments in the Strabane defence. But Athletic began to reassert themselves and Conall Crawford was unlucky to see his free kick strike the crossbar.

Having regained some composure Strabane fashioned a few half chances and long range shots but they were nowhere near as dominant as the first half and Maiden City were threatening as much as the home team.

Just when it seemed that Athletic had done enough to take all three points the impressive Andy Scott converted from close range to make the score 4-3 with 3 minutes to go. The same player was on hand in injury time to fire a fine shot past Ruairi McElroy and the comeback was complete. It nearly got worse for Athletic but McElroy safely gathered a low long range shot and this proved to be the last kick of the game.

 Strabane do have the memory of a very good first half display but will be disappointed that a defence which has been so good in recent weeks was breached three times in the second half. Next up for Athletic is a trip on Saturday to face Ballymoney Utd.

STRABANE ATHLETIC: Ruairi Mc Elroy; Aodhan Doherty; Cal Ryan; Aaron O’Hagan; Liam McMenamin; Rian McKelvey; Shane Brennan; Conal Crawford; Conor Carlin; Aaron Porter; OranMcShane; Richard Graham; Kyle Harte; Ronan McBrearty; David Taylor.

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The Strabane Chronicle is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
Registered in Northern Ireland, No. R0000576. 15 Main Street, Strabane, Co. Tyrone, Northern Ireland, BT82 8AS