Square United fell to a 0-3 home defeat to Enfield Celtic on Sunday afternoon as the clinical promotion hopefuls put paid to Square’s hopes of their first back to back wins of the campaign.
Hoping to build on last week’s victory away to relegation rivals Trim Town, the Ardee side were mightily impressive for large parts of the game and despite the scoreline can take great encouragement from their display against one of the division’s leading lights. A 0-1 deficit at half time was trebled by the end. It was, no doubt, a harsh scoreline.
Enfield returned to Ardee for the second time in three weeks and after their narrow one goal loss to Ardee Celtic on their first visit, this win gets their title charge back on track. It took just 13 games for the Meath men to notch 50 league goals this season – so this victory won’t surprise too many, given Square’s travails towards the foot of the table.
But the win was anything but straightforward for the away side. Square were unquestionably the better side in the opening 45 minutes and continued to carve out chances in the second half despite legs beginning to tire against a strong Enfield outfit. They created countless opportunities but couldn’t take one.
There were also without Jonny Sheridan for this one. Nathan O’Neill did have the ball in the net early on for the visitors but referee Paul McGeown had blown the whistle for a foul in the build-up.
How Square failed to capitalise in the next attack is anyone’s guess. Andrew Egan and Kian Moran started a move from deep and after Brian Corcoran played a one-two with Chris Kelly, the winger rode the challenge of Dean Brennan in the penalty area and squared for Moran. From three yards out, the unmarked midfielder didn’t catch his shot properly and scuffed straight at the goalkeeper.
Enfield had Johnny Sweeney to thank soon after as his last gasp tackle denied Darren McNeill a shot at goal and then McNeill failed to trouble Celtic stopper Sean Coyle with a header. Corcoran stung Coyle’s palms moments later with a rasping shot.
At the game’s end, Square were left to rue three shots that Enfield managed to clear off the line. The first of those came on 14 minutes when Andy Rogers curled an effort from the edge of the area on the right. It was bound for the far top corner until an Enfield head popped up to deny him. Moran then headed a follow-up chance over.
Enfield were missing key figures such as Tom Wynne and Barry Clancy but when they did attack, Dave Morgan looked their most dangerous outlet. He shot straight at Podge Malone and O’Neil hit the side netting before their 23rd minute opener. After a cross from the right, Morgan got between two defenders and was given time to volley past the goalkeeper.
Before the break, Duffy hit a free kick well over and Rogers tested Coyle with a good shot but Square’s best chance fell to Egan. A clever flick from Kelly, who was playing with the confidence of a man who bagged a hat-trick seven days earlier, played the number nine in and just as he lined up a shot, a bobble beat him to the ball and the chance came to nothing.
Considering Square have taken just one point on home soil in the 2016/17 campaign, it was so surprise coaches and players were left ruing the pitch surface at the Boys School Field. They look forward to making the Community School’s new field their new home once works are completed.
The home team were dangerous before the break and continued to be after it, before Enfield’s second. McNeill, Corcoran and Kelly were particularly impressive while Moran’s driving runs helped link midfield and attack.
He flashed a shot just wide of the post as United searched for the equaliser but just prior to the hour mark, Enfield doubled their lead. Whilst heads didn’t necessarily drop, legs tired in the second half. The nail in the day’s coffin came when Dylan McDonagh beat Duffy in the air and sub Shane Harris finished unerringly past Malone for 3-0.
There was still time for Square to be denied by a Celtic man on the line again late on. Duffy’s left wing cross eventually found it’s way out to McNeill. His first time volley was sweetly struck but hacked away.
After last week’s win, this was a stirring show from Square against arguably the league’s best side. A bittersweet day, but there’s hope for the battle ahead.
SQUARE: Padraig Malone, Darren Henry, Stefan Halpenny, Martin Duffy, Emmett Farrell, Brian Corcoran, Kian Moran, Andy Rogers, Darren McNeill, Chris Kelly, Andrew Egan.
Subs: Jamie McKenny, Eolann Aiken, Mark Rooney, Benny Curtis, Cian Halpenny.