Crucial victory as Willow Park maintain promotion push


John Dingle

Willow Park took advantage of Collinstown losing when they moved to within two points of the table toppers in the Leinster Senior league division 1A Sunday.

Third placed Tolka Rovers could have leapfrogged over Willow but instead suffered their second defeat of the season at the hands of Declan Holohan’s men. The game looked to be heading towards a scoreless conclusion only for Glen Byrne’s deflected effort on 89 minutes becoming the winner., with Willow Park goalkeeper, Dylan McGoey, ensuring a valuable home win when he denied Jamie Grey deep into stoppage time.

Both teams cancelled one another out for long periods but a single mistake from Tolka proved costly late on.

Former Athlone Town player Jamie Hamilton had the first chance but his shot was saved by McGoey. Cathal Callinan had the first home chance as corner kicks then followed at either end. A low-key opening half ended with the two best chances to date. On the stroke of the break, Etanda Nkololo fired across the goal from the left for Willow, while in stoppage time, Hamilton came closer for Tolka, but McGoey got down well at his near post to push the shot behind.

Chances were again at a premium when play resumed in the second half. Hamilton again had the first chance but fired wide. Kevin Murray had Willow’s first chance after 52 minutes and had a great opportunity to break the deadlock, but with only the keeper to beat, the striker’s shot flew over the bar.

The game looked like ending scoreless, especially when Willow were denied by a dubious offside flag with five minutes remaining. Eto Nkololo thought he had scored but the flag was raised much to the anger of home supporters.

Byrne come on for Callinan in the closing stages and greatly influenced the outcome. Tolka added to their downfall with a back pass from the halfway line. It should never have been attempted and especially when speed merchant Nkololo was the unexpected recipient. The winger raced down the right and squared the ball to Byrne who was up in support. In an attempt at blocking the danger, a Rovers defender on the penalty spot threw himself in front of the shot. All that happened was that the ball flew up in the air and looped over the helpless keeper into the net. It was a major stroke of good luck for Willow but home fans were not complaining.

Tolka though were not finished and still had time to try and force an equaliser. Five additional minutes were eventually played and there could have been further late drama during this period. A last gasp attack saw Grey turn on the edge of the penalty area to then face the goalkeeper. A neat finish was expected from the number ten, but McGoey stood up to then dive to his right and push the ball behind. The concession of just a corner was welcomed and when dealt with, Willow could then celebrate completing the double over Tolka this season.


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