Irish Cup Round 2
Rathcoole 1 Lower Maze 2
After a two week layoff Maze returned to action with a tricky Irish cup tie away to Rathcoole.
The early exchanges proved that this was going to be a very evenly matched game. With both teams playing some great football but neither team were able find a finish to match the quality build up.
Then with 30 minutes on the clock the game took a swing in Maze’s favour, when having already been booked the Rathcoole Captain inexplicable dived two footed into a challenge with Maze’s left back John Banks and was rightfully shown his marching orders, with Rathcoole barely given time to reshuffle the pack the ref had his cards out again this time a straight red for the Rathcoole centre forward after he elbowed Matty Johnson off the ball.
So now with a two man advantage Maze tried to play a patient game, keeping the ball whist trying to break down a defence that would surely tire as the game wore on. But with five minutes to go to half time, Maze Captain John Banks stupidly got involved with the Rathcoole striker, flicking out a kick at him while on the ground and again having already been booked the Maze full back was also sent for an early shower.
The half would peter out to close with both teams trying to figure out how to play with the reduction in numbers.
Rathcoole came out the more determined team in the second half and although a man light with only five minutes on the clock they were causing real problems to the Maze defence and they got their just reward after a flurry of attacks resulting in a corner, which was whipped in with pace and the Rathcoole man got across his marking and glanced his heading home to put his team 1-0 up.
This rallied the Maze boys into a reaction and it was now their turn to cause the home team some problems, but only for some good goalkeeping and some poor finishing the score stayed at 1-0.
But the persistent Maze lads didn’t give up and kept going in search of a route back in to the game, and they eventually found it when after some good work from Derek Wiggam, who was no operating on the left hand side played in Sammy Davidson who scored from the narrowest of angles to make it 1-1.
Maze, now with their tails up pushed hard to find the winning goal, and they didn’t have to wait long as only five minutes after equalising Darren Marshall played an excellent cross field ball which found its way to the feet of Peter Smyth who ran 30 yards unchallenged and calmly slotted home to put his team ahead.
Maze kept playing some nice neat football but couldn’t find the finishing touch to put the game out of Rathcoole’s reach which meant for a few nervy moments leading up to the final whistle but the Maze defence held strong and saw the team over the line and into the hat for Round 3.
Tom Neill, Lower Maze Manager said after the game: “A great win for the lads in a fixture that can be a very intimidating place to play, so it was great that our young side didn’t back down and stood up to the fight while still playing the better of the football on the day.”
Lower Maze Reserves
Lower Maze Reserves 2 Valley Rangers Reserves 6
Lower Maze started brightly with plenty of composure on the ball as they looked to settle into the passing football they like to play.
The only goal of the first half went to the visitors who broke with pace to score through their menacing right winger.
A string of great saves from the busy young Maze keeper Michael Thompson kept the gap close until half time.
Encouraged by their start to the first half, Maze hoped to get themselves back into the game early in the second half but two quick goals from Rangers did the damage to the game as a contest.
The lively Jake McKee who provided the best threat for the home side on the day got the goal he deserved by expertly taking a long ball before driving forward and firing past the oncoming keeper.
The Reserve Championship side again asserted their authority on the game and raced to extend their lead further, before a late consolation goal from Maze skipper Jonny Kerr rounded off the day.