Debut delight for Knipe as Whites earn win against nine man Annagh

Noel Halfpenny (Distillery) celebrates with his team mates. Pic by Mervyn McClelland Presseye

Noel Halfpenny (Distillery) celebrates with his team mates. Pic by Mervyn McClelland Presseye

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Lisburn Distillery travelled to Annagh United on a cold February afternoon on Saturday knowing it was a must win game.

Last time out, Sean Paul Murray’s side drew against Bangor so his side were confident going into this tie.

As the game got underway Distillery dominated the early stages and indeed took the lead inside nine minutes, as Neil Quinn got on the end of a long ball to flick his header into the path of Stephen Doyle, whose initial shot was well saved but he responded quickly to fire in the rebound to the delight of the Whites support.

What a way to start, however, the lead was so close to being wiped out on twelve minutes as Gerard McErlean had to make a fantastic save to deny Scott McCordick.

The relief was to be short lived, however, as Annagh were level shortly afterwards as they hit Distillery on the counter-attack following some poor defensive work and the ball eventually falling to the feet of Chris McIlroy for him to fire past the despairing dive of McErlean.

Annagh were getting joy from counter-attacks and they nearly hit Distillery once again as McCordick got through, his shot well saved by McErlean.

However, Distillery eased their way back into the match as Matthew Rooney nearly put them back ahead as he skipped the challenges before thumping his shot just wide of home ‘keeper Ciaran Fox’s goal, and it was the same man again who came to Annagh’s rescue as Rooney crossed into Darius Roohi but the goalkeeper denied the youngster a shot on goal.

Roohi was working hard on the flanks and was involved in the thick of the action as he went on a good run, but before he could get a shot away was well tackled by Mark Stewart in the last action of the half.

Distillery started the second half on top nearly going ahead instantly as Noel Halfpenny played in Stephen Doyle, but before he could steady himself Fox was out to clear and then soon afterwards the game was to start to flow in the Whites favour.

Annagh were reduced to ten men shortly afterwards as goalscorer McIlroy was shown a straight red for a dreadful tackle on young Roohi.

After this the Whites self belief began to grow and they should have taken the lead as Doyle hit a sweet cross into Quinn but he miscued his header.

Annagh were then reduced to nine men shortly afterwards as McCordick was dismissed after being shown a second yellow for dissent.

Distillery made their first change bringing on Ethan Knipe a recent arrival from Dundela, bringing off Roohi who once again impressed the Distillery faithful.

With the two man advantage it was now all one way traffic as Halfpenny was denied by Fox as he turned on the edge of the box before hitting a sweet strike.

Distillery were pressing, Rooney creating the next chance his cross well cleared by Phillip Craig, however, the breakthrough eventually did come as Distillery took the lead through Ethan Knipe.

Halfpenny’s free kick was palmed away by Fox into the feet of the debutant who slotted home from short range – a real debut delight for the Whites supporters.