Irish Defence Forces pay the penalty in friendly loss
A penalty early in the second half proved to be the winner for the visitors in a fiercely contested game at the home of St Patrick’s Athletic.
The match, which is part of the Irish team’s build-up to the CISM Military World Games in China in October, saw the Armed Forces take the lead through an own goal before the Defence Forces hit back with a David O’Riordan penalty on 40 minutes. A Sam Atkinson spot-kick two minutes into the second half proved to be the winner for the away team.
The Defence Forces started the game the brighter of the two sides and could have been ahead in the opening two minutes only for Paul Sheehan’s finish to be ruled offside. Three minutes later Sheehan threatened the Armed Forces’ goal again this time with a glancing header that struck the post – Ben O’Donoughue’s follow-up was smartly saved by Luke Cairney in the opposition goal.
But it was the visitors who took the lead against the run of play midway through the first half. A break down the right saw a cross squared into the box and the Defence Forces’ Aidan Friel turned the ball into his own net.
The home side responded positively drawing a save from Cairney who managed to stop a close-range attempt on his goal line and O’Riordan fired just wide after a smart move opened up the Armed Forces’ defence.
Barber’s side got the goal their play deserved on 40 minutes. Derek Walsh was brought down by keeper Cairney and O’Riordan slotted the penalty home for the equaliser.
The sides went into the break all square however the Armed Forces regained the lead early in the second half through the game’s second penalty. Alan Todd was fouled in the area and Atkinson stepped up to put his team 2-1 in front.
The Defence Forces had much more of the possession in the second half but the Armed Forces’ backline proved resolute and, despite the effort, the home side couldn’t find their second equaliser of the match.
Speaking after the game Defence Forces manager Richie Barber said: "I’m devastated, I felt we should have had the game won by half-time and our performance in that half was exceptional. But we didn’t take our chances and that’s what it comes down to. They had one chance in the first half and they took it - they forced us into the mistake for the own goal. We got the penalty and I thought we’d kick on from there but it wasn’t to be.
"The lads gave everything on the pitch and I couldn’t be prouder of them. We’ll go away, iron out the mistakes and learn that you should be winning those games where you’re playing better - that’s going to be the biggest lesson we take forward."
Irish Defence Forces: Gavin Mulreaney (Ken Deegan 75), Aidan Friel, David Long, Scott Delaney (Craig Doran 26), Lee Delaney, Chris Kenny, Ben O’Donoughue (Stephen Fisher 75), Dave O’Riordan, (Tony Smith 80), Paul Sheehan, Adrian Rafferty, Derek Walsh (Ray McCann 60).
Substitutes: Craig Doran, Jody Dillon, Ross McCarthy, Joe Breslin, Gavin Dillon, Shane O’Doherty, Lee Scanlon.
United Kingdom Armed Forces: Luke Cairney (GK), Michael Cushion, Sam Rawlings, Sam Atkinson, Carl Evans, Ryan Paddock, Daniel Earl, Alex Woodhouse, Dan Kerr, Andrew Todd, Michael Campbell.
Substitutes: Matthew Cape (GK), Kyle Willis, David Parker, Brodie Gray, Lewis Cooper, Alan Sneddon, Mike Atkinson.
Referee: Eoghan O’Shea.