Benny McLaughlin of Cockhill Celtic in action against Kevin McGrath of Letterkenny Rovers during Sunday's game at the Aura. Picture: Stephen Doherty
BJ Banda scored twice for Letterkenny Rovers but it wasn’t enough as Cockhill Celtic e earned a deserved point in Sunday’s top of the table clash in the Four Lanterns Ulster Senior League.
Letterkenny Rovers . . . 2
Cockhill Celtic . . . 2
Cockhill, the leaders in the USL, twice came from behind to earn what could well prove a crucial point and maintain their three point advantage over their title rivals.
In truth, Cockhill will be disappointed they didn’t win this game. They were the better side over the 90 minutes and created a string of good chances during the course of a fascinating encounter.
They thought they’d scored what could well have been the winner late on when Mark Moran turned the ball in from close range after a Laurence Toland effort came back off the post. But as Moran raced away to celebrate, the assistant’s flag indicated that Moran was offside and the goal was ruled out.
Cockhill had other chances too. The excellent Lee McColgan also hit a post from a free kick while Gerard McLaughlin turned the ball wide of the post when presented with a great chance in front of goal.
Darren McElwaine and Peter Doherty challenge for possession. Picture: Stephen Doherty
That McLaughlin chance came after Cockhill had levelled the game at 2-2 on 53 minutes.. Their equaliser came from a set-piece situation which wasn’t well defended by Rovers and when the ball ran loose at the edge of the box, Mal McDermott’s sweet volley flew in past Rory Gallagher.
It was the perfect response from Cockhill after they had gone in at half-time trailing 2-1.
Banda had given Rovers the lead on 18 minutes when following a Lee Toland corner, Banda found space on the box to fire low into the bottom corner.
Gerard McLaughlin and Benny McLaughlin both went close to equalising before Gerard McLaughlin headed in past Kelly from McColgan’s cross on 26.
At this stage of the game, Cockhill were well on top with Moran and defender Oisin McColgan both having chances to put their team in front.
But out of nothing, Rovers got themselves back in front when Banda pounced on another poor piece of defensive play from the visitors to head his second goal.
Rovers, without the suspended Conor Tourish and the injured Jonny Bonner, have performed better this season, but they did finish the game on the front foot with Darren McElwaine, Banda and Chris Malseed all really impressive in the closing stages.
The result also brings an end to a run of three straight defeats on the bounce and with plenty of games still to be played, their manager Eamonn McConigley will be happy that the title race is still very much alive.
Letterkenny Rovers: Rory Kelly, Ryan Lonergan (Ciaran Kelly 10), Lee Toland, Ryan McConnell, Brian McVeigh, Luke Nelis (Declan Sharkey 71), Kevin McGrath, Chris Malseed, Christy Connaghan, Darren McElwaine, BJ Banda.
Cockhill Celtic: Lee McCarron, Jason Breslin, Lee McColgan, Peter Doherty, Oisin McColgan, Gerry Gill, Mal McDermott, James Bradley, Gerard McLaughlin (Marty Doherty 84, Mark Moran, Benny McLaughlin (Laurence Toland 71).
Referee: Marty McGarrigle,
Assistants: Con McLaughlin, Zach McLoughlin.