The elements almost proved the winner at the Lakeside on Saturday before a wonder late strike from David Dolan sealed the issue.
Erne Wanderers 3
Castlefin Celtic 2
The final result proved a difficult pill to swallow for Castlefin, who recovered from two very bad goals, to control most of the second half, but were then hit with a Dolan thunderbolt with 12 minutes left.
The wind and rain was the main factor in this game and ironically both sides played much better when playing against the elements.
Erne Wanderers were against the wind and rain in the opening half and got the perfect start, a goal after just 13 seconds. Could it be one of the fastests goals ever.
From the kick-off David Dolan had a shot saved by stand-in ‘keeper Keith Nelis, but the rebound fell to David Dorrian and he sidefooted home from 20m. His colleagues in the dug-out said it was a rare goal from the midfielder!
By the 15 minute mark Erne were two ahead with Michael McNeely firing from 30m and Nelis could have done better.
The home side were in control but towards the end of the half the threat of JP Malleybecame very obvious and it was no surprise when he pulled a goal back three minutes from the break.
Both sides had chances in the opening half with Malley and McNeely, in particular, proving to be the top attackers.
There was a certain amount of niggle creeping into the encounter with referee Brian O’Kane’s decisions being questioned and a few players were shown yellow cards. In fairness to the official, the conditions made it very difficult for him as well.
Early in the second half it was obvious that Castlefin were much more determined.
There was just 55 minutes gone when Castlefin got in for the equaliser and it was Ronan Tourish who finished to the net.
Castlefin Celtic then began to exert extreme pressure and Erne Wanderers just couldn’t control their clearances in the strong wind.
Malley continued to carry the main threat and he kept the Erne centrel defenders Cassidy and Dolan on their toes.
At the other end Darren McNulty was almost in and there were shouts for a penalty from the home side which went unheeded.
Malley had another chance flash past a post before the winner arrived - the best goal of the game by far, and it was against the run of play.
David Dolan was involved in the build-up and a shot by Alan Russell was blocked and rebounded to Dolan, some 30m from goal. He took aim and found the top corner giving the Castlefin ‘keeper Nelis absolutely no chance.
Castlefin Celtic kept chasing for another equaliser but they were unable to create one more opening.
The win leaves Erne staying close to the top of the table although they can count themselves lucky to get all three points in this encounter.
Apart from the excellent McNeely, Darren McNulty really led the line well for the winners while Alan Russell, David Dolan and David Dorrian also played well.
For Castlefin Celtic, JP Malley looked a class apart. His best support came Ronan Rourish, Paul Logue and James McMenamin.
Erne Wanderers: Carl O’Brien, Michael Dolan, Ryan O’Brien, Jamie Cassidy, Cian Dolan, Dermot Slevin (Brian Patton (76), Michael McNeely, David Dorrian, Darren McNulty, Alan Russell, David Dolan.
Castlefin Celtic: Keith Nelis, Patrick Porter, Darren Bogan (David Stewart half time), Gary McNeely, Jonny Bogle, Brian Dooher, Ronan Tourish, James McMenamin, Paul Logue, Gregory O’Leary, JP Malley.
Referee: Brian O’Kane.