Newtongrange maintained their Premier League promotion challenge with an emphatic 8-1 trouncing of close rivals Oakley, hitting six goals in a sizzling second half.
Manager Alan Miller was delighted the game was played and that his side were able to win so convincingly. “It’s a tribute to all the hard work done by the committee that the game went ahead as scheduled. They did a magnificent job and as we all are a team here, it was important that the players played their part and won the game. Some of our play matched the work the committee had put in so we’re delighted with the efforts of everyone at the club.”
Newtongrange started well, with Paul Tansey coming close a couple of times in the opening 15 minutes. However, Oakley had the first real opportunity to open the scoring when they were awarded a penalty after Charlie Scarborough was upended in the box. They failed to take the chance though as Scarborough’s effort was well saved by Star keeper Keiron Renton in the 26th minute.
Newtongrange made no mistake when they created a great chance only five minutes later. Craig O’Reilly was played in on the inside right position and from 20 yards blasted the ball home for a deserved opener.
As the half time whistle approached, Oakley showed just how dangerous they could be when Scarborough glanced a header narrowly past the post with the keeper beaten. Then with only a minute to go Newtongrange doubled their lead when a Chris King corner from the right was headed home by full back Michael Delland.
Oakley gave themselves a lifeline only three minutes after the restart when Sam Bratchit headed home from a corner on the right to reduce the deficit.
The Star’s response was immediate. They restored their two goal advantage with the goal of the game from Jay Shields. Tansey rolled the ball back to him and from 30 yards he blasted it into the top corner.
Five minutes later they added to their tally with a trademark Tansey special, the Star player drilling a low shot into the net from 18 yards out.
The second half was producing a terrific advert for Junior football with both sides creating chance after chance. Oakley’s John Cusack was given a straight red card for an altercation with Tansey and from the resultant free kick Newtongrange scored a fifth goal. King sent the free kick over to the back post where Scott Gibson bundled the ball over the line.
In the 83rd minute King got on the scoresheet himself when he picked his spot before rolling the ball home.
The last goals were a reward for right winger Lewis Turner. First he ran 40 yards leaving a trail of defenders in his path before rounding the keeper and tapping the ball into the empty net.
Then in the dying minutes he completed the scoring when latching onto the ball after a Mel Graham effort had been blocked on the line.
Unsurprisingly, the glut of goals and three points gained made for a happy home manager. “It was a really good afternoon’s work,” added Miller. “It’s points in the bag for us. Other teams are chasing us but we’re in a relatively good position. There’s still a lot of games to be played and we know other teams have games in hand, but it’s another three points towards getting promotion.”
Newtongrange: Renton, McManus, Delland, Tolmie (Donnelly), Gibson, Cherrie (Swaney), Turner, Shields, O’Reilly (Graham), King, Tansey. Subs: Dunbar, Amos.
Oakley: Page, Mauchlen, McMillan, Cusack, Connor, J Dair, Murray, Bratchit, Scarborough, Gallagher, L Dair.