Late goals by McLarnon and Hughes see St Paul’s snatch a point

St Paul’s 2-9 All Saints 1-12

Two goals inside two minutes deep into injury time saw St Paul’s snatch a share of the points at Shaw’s Road on Wednesday evening against All Saints Ballymena. All Saints appeared to have the points wrapped up but they were made to pay dearly for missed chances at the other end as St Paul’s conjured up a comeback with two late goals, the first from a penalty from Colm McLarnon, which he finished from the rebound after a good save by the All Saints keeper, and the second a minute later from midfielder Conor Hughes who rose to palm the ball to the net.

All Saints travelled to Shaws Road in good form, and keen to get another two points on the board as they chase the leading promotion pack.

Playing with a strong breeze in the first half and playing some attractive football, at the first water break they led on a score line of 1-4 to 0-3, the goal coming from Kavan Keenan and points from McCarry (F), James McDonnell, Conal Lemon and Oisin Connolly. St Paul’s scores coming from Liam McKenna (0.2) and Conor Burns. 

All Saints continued to dominate after the water break with Benny McDonnell in impressive form with 0-4 from play and a long range effort from Sean McVeigh.

St Paul’s only managed 1 further score in the 2nd quarter and at the half time break, All Saints were full value for their eight point lead having benefitted from a strong breeze.

Half time score 1.9 to 0.4

All Saints extended their lead at the beginning of the second half with Oisin Connolly’s second point of the game. 

However St Paul’s began to gradually register on the scoreboard with 3 frees (Liam McKenna 0.1) and Conor Burns (2).  They also had an excellent chance to reduce the margin with a shot that cannoned off the All Saints cross bar, but as the game entered the final quarter, St Pauls had reduced the gap to 6 points trailing by a scoreline of 1.10 to 7 points at the second half water break. 

Both sides exchanged scores with All Saints scores coming from Brendan McDonnell (0-1) and McCarry from a free  and they had opportunities to extend their lead but their wayward shooting cost them dearly.

Despite that the visitors appeared to have the points sown up as they entered injury time with a six point cushion, However late drama was to follow and as the Ballymena side struggled to retain possession coming out of defence and we’re turned over. Some good interchange play by St Paul’s forward line led to a penalty being conceded by the All Saints defence one minute into injury time.  Colm McLarnon, who had been moved into the edge of the square midway through the second half after injuring his hamstring, stepped up to take the penalty, and though his shot was well saved by Conor Brennan in the All Saints goal, he followed up and sent the rebound to the net and leave a goal between the teams.

All Saints clearly reeling from conceding a late goal showed a lack of composure and St Paul’s sensing the game was there for the taking struck a further blow with an excellent move which was punched to the net by Conor Burns to level the game three minutes into injury time.

 St Paul’s will be delighted with their point and this will feel like a defeat to All Saints who led from 4th minute of the game.  

It will leave their promotion ambitions hanging by a thread.  The Ballymena men will be very disappointed by the nature of their collapse conceding two goals in injury time and letting eight point lead slip in the second half.

St Paul’s will obviously be delighted at their late turnaround and will be looking forward to taking on Belfast neighbours Ardoyne on Sunday.

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