FAI Intermediate Cup
A close range finish from Billy Kadima with just 6 minutes to go saw Everton FC take a giant step along the Road to the Aviva on Sunday afternoon.
At times in the first half Cherry Orchard looked so comfortable, that it seemed if Romelu Lakaku played for the Everton of Cork and not the Everton of Liverpool they still wouldn’t have a chance of progressing to the quarter finals.
However, the MSL second tier side battled to keep a single goal between the sides at the break and sucker punched the LSL top flight outfit to complete a come from behind win and make it 2-1 to The Rebel county from the three Dublin versus Cork Intermediate Cup battle over the weekend.
Cherry Orchard will be disappointed they didn’t take their chances and their was a feeling around Elmdale that they let the game slip, but Everton gave them a lesson in ruthlessness by taking the two major chances that came their way to keep alive the Intermediate dream.
They haven’t been in the greatest of form of late, but Cherry Orchard started this game well.
Indeed the broke the deadlock within five minutes as former Glenville man found the top corner after the ball fell to him 12 yards out.
The hosts continued to dominate and there midfield three were all but running the game. Collins provided Jonathan Kelty and Aidan Rafferty the platform to go and create they did.
Both were given too much time on the ball and showed their quality. In fact both rolled in Ciaran Byrne behind a high line before 15 minutes was passed and only a good Darren Haines save and some good covering defending prevented him finding the net.
Both also had efforts from range, while Giovanni Bacarosso and Darren Stapleton, who both impressed from wing back, put some crosses into the area, but all to no avail.
Alan O’Sullivan was impressive at the back during that period under the cosh and actually came closed to leveling when he forced a save from Sean Holmes after volleying at the back post come set piece time.
The old school shaped and styled centre back also shaved the outside of the post later in the stanza, but The Orchard had most of the ball and the chances in their first period.
The best of which fell for Sean Dixon, who left his wing back role to return to the front line, however after Rafferty and Kelty combined to put Bacarosso charging down the right flank a brilliant Sean Sweeney intervention stopped him tapping home from two yards.
Cherry Orchard again started the second half with more of the ball, but their bench started to become frustrated that they were not kicking up the gears.
That frustration was added to by the fact the visitors made things a lot more difficult for them. The moving of the vocal Lawerince Fitzpatick from the right to the centre of the park seemed to play apart and as the half wore a sense the home side may get punished for not killing off the game started to grow.
Young centre half Dean Murphy thought he had secured the insurance goal, but his close range header from a delicious Kelty corner was saved by Haines.
The home supports fears were eventually relised a minute after the hour as the visitors leveled.
The Orchard played some head tennis around their box before the ball fell to Gary O’Brien just inside the area and he fired left footed home at the near post to square things up.
Their was still a sense Orchard were favourites to progress and they had two chances within minutes as Byrne glanced a header into Haines arms, before Paul McGrath produced a vital clearance as Murphy found space around the back post and tried to square to Byrne.
The visitors did battle with renewed hope and their constant pestering of the officials for the remaining time suggested they would gladly leave Dublin with a draw.
A brilliant finger tip save from Jack O’Connor after the sub shot from range after a neat turn ensured they didn’t fall behind for a second time with 10 minutes to go.
In fact it was the away side who managed to steal in front just four minutes later. The home midfield delayed a fraction when they called for hand ball in the centre circle, Patrick Murphy reacted quickest and played in young Cillian Cooper down the right. The sub beat his man and crossed low for the lively Kadima, who couldn’t miss from five yards.
Orchard went all out for it over the last six minutes, but for the most part Everton looked solid, O’Sullivan particularly seemed to rejoice in the last ditch defending.
The LSL Senior Sunday title hopefuls did have two chances to force a replay, but Haines was out smart to block O’Connor and Murphy fired over from a deep free when he had more time than he thought.