AUL Premier A
A wonderful Wayne Waldron finish saw Sheriff YC win the a top of the table Premier A clash on Friday night.
The midfielder’s brilliant early finish was enough for the reigning champions to beat their biggest rivals to the AUL throne, Usher Celtic, and go nine points clear at the top of the table.
The former Hardwicke player produced the only piece of real final third quality in a game that had more yellow cards than chances. However, despite the lack of goal mouth action there was enough bite throughout the tie to leave the large watching crowd looking forward to the pairs FAI Junior Cup fourth round tie.
Indeed, such was the tension, fight and atmosphere that the game had an ambiance reminiscent of the great Kilbarrack Sheriff clashes of recent times and it became apparent the all conquering Inner City side have a real rival again, which is testament to the progress Usher have made and a much needed development for AUL’s top league.
Before many had settled into their standing spots around all weather pitch Sheriff had taken the lead. Waldron wrapped his foot around the ball brilliantly from out side of the area to find the net much to the delight of the away following.
Usher to their credit didn’t panic and continued to try and play football, but over the next few minutes the visitors saw more of the ball. However, through to the nature of the game their was little in the way of goal scoring opportunities created.
As the half wore on Usher did see more possession with Barry Fox providing energy and guile in midfield, but like their opponents they failed to flirt with scoring.
There were some neat touches from the hosts and Jordan Buckley did pick up some nice pockets of space, but Sheriff pressed high which meant when the likes of Buckley and Steven Donnelly did looked to create they had to do so closer to the half line that Sheriff’s box.
Sheriff were also happy to long and take on Usher physically. Too their credit the home back three seemed up to the task, but it was a war of attrition that looked certain to take it’s toll.
On the other hand so solid were Sheriff at the back that Usher looked too nervous to put the ball into the box and as a result over played on occasion.
Donnelly did have an effort from range around the half hour mark after neat link up with Buckley, but Lee Murphy was never troubled in the away goal.
Apart from Waldron’s goal that Donnelly shot was the only attempt on target and half time came with Sheriff a goal to the good.
Sheriff upped a gear attacking wise after the turn and before 50 minutes had passed they had two great chances.
Lee Fetherson, who impressed down the right in the second half, was twice thwarted by persistence of covering wing back Wayne Walker after the ball feel to him kindly in the box.
The teen then did brilliant to keep a clip down the line to beat a man and cross low for Rock. The top scorer looked certain to score from within six yards, but cushioned the cross across the face of goal.
Ger Jordan had a half chance at the other end minutes later when a free kick found him free at the back post but Paul Murphy recovered well to block.
The game opened up somewhat and Waldron shot when he should have passed after nipping in to win the ball in midfield before Donnelly broke in behind but couldn’t get enough on his left foot volley to trouble Lee Murphy.
Sheriff then began to show their game management skills. John Lester and Darren Dunne started to boss the middle of the park both with and without the ball. While Paul Murphy’s right wing raids cleverly pinned the home sides wing backs deep in their own half.
Usher were still hopeful of a result and went two up top. They did have one great chance to draw level when Leroy Staunton intercepted a ball to feet, feed Donnelly and the former Bohs front man rolled in Buckley with a brilliant ball. However, Anto Kavanagh did enough to get back, apply pressure and help ensure the strike wasn’t strong enough to beat Murphy.
Usher did try and go long on occasion as clock ticked down but Sheriff dealt with it with relative ease. Staunton did have an overhead kick just over after a free kick again made its way to the back post, but the equaliser never came and Sheriff won to ensure they are the only the unbeaten side in the division.