Disappointing Renwick held 2-2 by Donegal Rangers

11 Mar

Having not drawn in a competitive match since December 2008, a mediocre Renwick side were frustrated by Donegal Rangers on a cracking day for football at the Ozone. Despite last week’s 6-4 reversal at the hands of the Law Society, manager Andy Morrison stuck with the same starting lineup, Andy Lynch again deputising at centre-half, and Mark Porter donning the famous number 7 on the right wing. Robert Cromie took the whistle (and cards and notebook and special stopwatch/car keys) for the first period.

The sun may have been out, but judging by the fact that this man is fully clothed, there was still a chill in the air

The first half was a decidedly scrappy affair, and neither side was able to impose themselves on the game in the first 15 minutes. One of Rangers’ main attacking weapons was their long throws, and they weren’t arf bad. It was from one of these that Rangers opened the scoring, after McCullough saved well with his legs following a scramble in the 6-yard box, he was powerless to prevent the lobbed rebound sailing over him and into the net. The goal chastened Renwick, and they duly hit back midway through the first half. Mark Porter, who had been getting the better of his man on several occasions, once again found himself in space on the right, and delivered a dangerous diagonal ball across goal. The bounce eluded everyone, until Ian Buchanan adjusted his feet and cooly backheeled in at the back post, continuing his run of scoring in every game in 2010. The match continued in similarly scrappy fashion, with Rangers physical-but-fair approach meaning the Elmwood side were restricted to half-chances, Gavin Blackwell coming closest with a shot from 25 yards. Donegal were causing problems of their own with their direct approach, which had clearly been well honed over the season. With around 10 minutes left in the half, their approach paid off, as yet another long ball left the Renwick defence flat-footed. McCullough was quick off his line, but was beaten to the bouncing ball by the opposition striker, who lobbed the onrushing keeper with consummate ease. This was the last action of note in a dismal first half, possibly the worst of Renwick’s season.

Donegal's second

Manager Morrison shows his displeasure at the first half performance

Renwick emerged unchanged after the break, and came out all guns blazing, with several ambitious long-range efforts inside the first 5 minutes. McCaughan made way for Michael Hawthorne on 55 minutes, and three minutes later Renwick pulled back level again. Coincidence? Probably. Ben Hanna, channeling into affirmative action the rage he felt at there not being a match report for his (self-declared) man-of-the-match performance last week, played a delicious ball into Buchanan, who swiveled before playing in Mark McCavery, who calmy slotted past the keeper.

McCavery's well placed equaliser

Further changes ensued, with Morrison taking the whistle as Carson and Cromie came on for him and McCollum. It was a straight swap at right-back, while McCavery went to centre-half and Cromie slotted in up front. Philip Aicken soon followed them onto the field, replacing Blackwell in the middle of the park. Renwick continued to have the better of the action, as McCavery’s presence at the back negated the effect of Rangers’ long balls. There were several chances for Renwick to take the lead, with Cromie and Hawthorne both having shots cleared off the line. At the other end, there was still plenty for young McCullough to do, as he shook off the after effects of 40 pre-match laps to successfully take on the role of sweeping keeper. However, neither side were able to find a winner, and the match finished with a 2-2 scoreline.

No Renwick player covered themselves in glory, and while there were decent performances from McKelvey and Buchanan, there were many players on the park who are capable of better. Some encouragement was to be had from the performances of young subs Carson and Aicken, who are both staking their respective claims for starting berths next season. However, the man of the match award goes to Andy McKelvey, who once again added steel in the midfield, while creating attacking impetus with his driving forward runs.

He even threw in a stepover

Renwick’s next match sees them take on mid-table side Belfast Bible College, a game Morrison’s men must win if they are to have any chance of holding onto fourth place.

Renwick (4-2-3-1): 1. McCullough; 2. Morrison, 12. Lynch, 4. McCollum, 3. Hanna; 8. Blackwell, 6. McKelvey; 7. Porter, 10. Buchanan, 15. McCaughan; 9. McCavery. Subs: 11. Aicken, 14. Cromie, 16. Hawthorne, 17. Carson

More photos:

One of very few balls played into the area

Ben displays his aerial prowess. Pity about what goes on at ground level...

During the mixed martial arts contest, a game of football occasionally broke out


Cromie takes a crowd-pleasing tumble

This sums up the Renwick performance


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