Square United suffered their second 1-5 reverse of the North East Football League Division 1 season on Sunday afternoon, going down to Carrick Rovers at the Boys School Field. Stefan Halpenny’s first half goal was scant consolation at the end of a dismal display for the Ardee side.
Three weeks to the day since Rovers had beaten Square 3-1 in Carrickmacross, thye made the short hop down the N2 to Ardee for the return fixture and enjoyed their biggest win of the season in doing so.
Right back Liam Og Murray hit a first half brace to add to Gerard McKeown’s early header as Carrick lead 3-1 at the interval. Two goals in two minutes from Gavan Lynch and Paddy Lanney completed the rout before the hour mark.
Cruciate ligament victim Chris Kelly will miss the rest of the season so Tony Boyle partnered Darren MacNeill and Aaron Kerley up front with the duo fresh from scoring two and one goals respectively in Square’s last outing – a Challenge Cup win over BMC United two weeks ago.
Square went close before Carrick took an eighth minute lead. Kerley latched onto Peter Duffy’s goalkick and directed the ball past Martin McDermott but his goalbound effort was hacked off the line. At the other end, lax marking allowed McKeown to meet Lanney’s corner and power a header in.
MacNeill saw a shot comfortably saved by the Carrick stopper but in truth, Square struggled to create anything of note. Murray doubled the visitors lead on 24 minutes. After good work from Dylan Ward, the defender was given too much time finish. His initial effort was stopped on line but made no mistake with the rebound.
Square got their goal when Rovers failed to clear James Clarke’s corner. An almightly goalmouth scramble ended in Stefan Halpenny touching the ball over the line. However it took only six minutes for the away team to restore a two goal advantage. Lanney’s free kick on the left is allowed to travel all the way to the back post where Murray volleyed in.
Square’s only chance of note before the break arrived when Andy Rogers shot straight at McDermott. A half time reshuffle pushed Rogers back in central defence and when he failed to clear a forward ball, Lynch nipped in advanced and fired past Duffy for 4-1.
Less than two minutes later, any hope of a fightback was ended when Lanney’s free kick from 25 yards clipped off the top of the defensive wall and in.
The last 30 minutes were a non-event at the Boys School Field. Kirk, Kerley and teenage substitute Evan Malone went close with a number of half-chances but the best opportunity arrived at the other end. Lynch left Gary McKenny grounded and dinked the ball over Duffy – but in doing so beat the crossbar too.
After a promising start, United have now suffered five defeats in their last six league matches. They need a boost and soon.
SQUARE UNITED: Peter Duffy, Killian Murray (Gary McKenny, 52), Stefan Halpenny (Andrew Egan, 46), Martin Duffy, Dermot Caraher, Alan Kirk, Andy Rogers (Pearce Callan, 65), Jonny Sheridan, James Clarke (Evan Malone, 70), Darren MacNeil, Aaron Kerley.
CARRICK ROVERS: Martin McDermott, Liam Og Murray, Craig Fannin, Stephen Carroll, David Wilson, Benny McSkane, Dylan Ward, Gerard McKeown, Gavan Lynch, Paddy Lanney, Ciaran Flanagan.
REFEREE: Simon Halpenny