Narrow defeat for depleted Whites against high flying H&W Welders

Distillery's Kieran O'Connor and Welders Karl Devine. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye
Distillery's Kieran O'Connor and Welders Karl Devine. Picture by Freddie Parkinson/Press Eye

Tillysburn Park was the destination for Lisburn Distillery on Saturday afternoon to take on second placed Harland and Wolff Welders.

The Whites came into the match on the back of a fantastic win over Donegal Celtic the previous weekend.

However, they were without key players in forwards Stephen Doyle and Mikey Withers and their absence led to manager Sean-Paul Murray opting to play a more defensive unit on the day.

As the game got underway it was clear to see the pitch was creating all sorts of problems, being very heavy not allowing any real fluency and indeed it took an early toll on Distillery who were forced into making a very early change through injury as Lee Chapman, who was only returning from the sidelines was replaced by Denver Taggart.

Murray had set his side out in a defensive formation hoping to come away with a point or hit the Welders on the counter attack and it was the visitors who had the first real opening of the game as Kevin Hughes bundled into the box before his strike flashed just wide of goal from an acute angle.

This game was very rigid with not many chances opening up, however, Distillery nearly saw themselves behind in unnecessary circumstances as Ciaran Burns put Gerard McErlean in trouble with Josh Cahoon lurking but the keeper cleared just in time.

Cahoon nearly did put his side ahead, however, when he picked the ball up from deep he jinked past two defenders before smashing his shot just wide of the target.

As the half drew to a close Distillery had the perfect chance to go into the dressing room ahead as Hughes hit a free-kick from the edge of the box, the Distillery fans celebrating thinking it was a goal, but the ball had other ideas whistling just wide of the target rippling the side netting on the way.

In all truth it was a uninventive half of football. Distillery’s game plan working but it simply just wasn’t entertaining for the supporters. A better second half was needed.

After such solidity in the defence in the first half, the Whites will have been disappointed as Gary Smyth’s side took the lead minutes into the second half through former Whites player Scott Davidson.

A scrappy goal as he stuck out an outstretched leg to beat the onrushing McErlean after the ball had taken a couple of nicks on its way into the box. So One-Nil down and with no familiar striker this was now going to be a real uphill battle for the Whites.

One could have been two on sixty eight minutes as David Rainey cut inside before his blistering shot was well blocked by Darren Nixon the ball going out for a corner.

Distillery made another change bringing off Keiran O’Connor for debutante Niall Atkinson, but with the Whites pressing some gas began to appear at the back and McErlean had to come to Distillery’s rescue as he made a wonderful reaction save to deny Scott Davidson piling on even more misery for the Distillery faithful as his thunderous strike from the edge of the box looked set for the bottom right hand corner.

McErlean then once again stopped Gary Smyth’s side going further ahead as he tipped away, cat like, from a stinging Sammy Devine drive.

As the game came to a close Darren Nixon prevented a second Welders goal as Ryan Dean’s drive flicked off the experienced defender and away from goal.

A disappointing, if not unexpected result, then for the Whites who defended well for most of the game but lacked penetration at the front end of the park. Distillery host Loughall next week at home in another crunch tie.

LDFC team v Welders: McErlean, Pearce, Evans, Burns, Nixon, McDonnell, Begley, Halfpenny, Hughes, O”Connor, Chapman

Subs: Ringland, Mcilhagga, Taggart (for Chapman), Grainger, Atkinson (for O’Connor).

New signing

Midfielder Niall Atkinson is the latest recruit to the recently revamped Lisburn Distillery team. Niall joins the Whites from Donegal Celtic although supporters will recall that he has been at the club previously under former manager Paul Kirk. Welcome on board Niall!

Next Up Loughgall

Lisburn Distillery’s next Championship One game is at home to Loughgall this Saturday January 23rd.

The match will kick off at 2.00pm and normal admission prices of £7 adults, £4 concessions and Under 16’s FOC will apply, season tickets are applicable for this game.