Willow Park suffer first LSL home defeat of the season

Arklow Town inflicted a first home defeat of the season on Willow Park in the Leinster Senior league last Saturday evening.

The hosts had enough chances to win the game at DPD Park with Noel McGee, in particular, out of luck in front of goals.

With a one hundred percent home record, Willow started as favourites against a team yet to win away. The visitors however took the lead inside the opening minute and hung on as Willow struggled to make the breakthrough thereafter.

What proved to be the winner came with just 25 seconds played. Willow were caught cold from the start as Arklow attacked down the left. The cross picked out Stewart Mills who rifled a shot to the roof of the net over Mick Fogarty.

Undeterred, Willow still had lots of time to level matters. The first corner kick was earned on three minutes with McGee firing wide soon after. The best chance of an equaliser during the half was not long in arriving. Kevin Murray swept the ball past the advancing keeper but saw his effort fizz wide of the far post. Kieran McNally and Benny Magennis were also off target. Further chances fell Willow's way but Arklow held out until the break arrived.

The second half saw Willow again come close but they failed to avail of four good opportunities. A frustrating evening continued early in the half. Murray picked out McGee but his goalbound flick was cleared off the line. The striker was again out of luck moments later when his shot flew wide. It seemed inevitable that Willow would score as the half progressed as Mark Nicholson and McGee had further chances.

Thomas Lynch had a shot cleared off the line during an Arklow counter attack. Goalkeeper Fogarty also made a number of good saves as the visitors looked to add to their goal tally.

The luckless McGee headed over following a free kick and continued by curling a shot just wide. For the closing stages, Willow went with just three at the back but it was all in vain. Ryan Gaffey and Aidan Byrne joined the action as the hosts launched an all-out offensive.

It was all Willow in the closing stages. Substitute Byrne saw his shot blocked by the keeper with Murray sending the rebound wide. Six corners in a row were forced by Willow in a remarkable closing to the contest but still Arklow stood firm.

Five additional minutes allowed the home team more time to attack. A sharing of the spoils would have been welcomed at this stage by Willow fans. Niall Scullion pushed forward and had the last chance deep into stoppage time. However, in summing up a bad evening for Declan Holohan's men, the shot from the right flew over the bar.

Willow missing out on the chance to edge closer to early pacesetters Collinstown and Tolka Rovers at the top of the table. There is another home game at the weekend when Templeogue United are the visitors on Saturday.

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