MELVILLE FC 0 ABBEYLEIX ATHLETIC 6
In their first competitive season, Melville FC’s hopes of making it to a cup final were shattered following a heavy home defeat in this Combined Counties Division Two Cup semi-final second leg fixture.
Having drawn with Abbeyleix Athletic in the first leg of the tie, hopes were high that Melville would finish the job at Sarsfield Park last Sunday morning, but it was a day to forget for the hosts as they were beaten by nine goals to three on aggregate.
The tie was all but settled by the quarter hour mark as the visitors raced into a three-goal lead. Melville got off to a dreadful start when a free kick from the left by Jamie Coffey after four minutes slipped out of goalkeeper Cathal Joyce’s grasp into the net. There was barely time to recover when the hosts again conceded a minute later when a right-wing cross from Adam Broady was slotted home by Coffey at the far post.
A first corner kick of the game gave the Boys in Green some hope but Joyce then had to be alert to prevent Coffey from claiming a quick-fire hat trick.
However, Melville were further undone on the quarter hour mark as Sam Quinn’s delivery from a corner was not cleared and Lee Maher fired to the net. Melville had few chances as Corey Jinks fired a shot across the goalmouth from the right but wide of the far post.
Midway through the half, Athletic’s Dean Byrne headed over a free kick from the left. Melville forced another corner kick with a Brian Malone free also drawing a save from the Athletic goalkeeper.
A further Abbeyleix set piece on 32 minutes increased the lead. Coffey was the provider this time as his free kick from the right was met by Byrne. Joyce then denied Eoghan Fennelly but was beaten again on 38 minutes. The marking was slack as Eric Killeen side footed home a cross from Alex Westbrook, the Laois team having one foot in the final by half time.
The second half proved to be an anti-climax as Athletic cruised through with ease. Melville turned in an improved performance but could not fashion even a consolation score. The home team had the better chances but the Athletic defence stood firm. Jinks had the first chance when having a shot blocked for Melville. Malone also had two chances to get the Athlone lads off the mark.
The only goal of the half was to fall Abbeyleix’s way after 75 minutes, Substitute Jamie Strafford sending Joyce the wrong way with a penalty kick. Melville kept plugging away and Jinks had another shot blocked with Mark Hewitt also having an effort saved. James Martin had a chance late on but Melville could not find the net as a home corner kick ended the action.
Hopes of an all local final were shattered but Temple Villa did make it to the decider. Highfield United did not travel for the second leg having trailed by four goals to one from the first leg at home. The final is now set for Sunday in Tullamore.