Temple Villa’s Dean O’Neill controls the ball as Melville’s Kevin Lawless closes in at Sarsfield Park last Sunday. Photos: Paul Molloy.

Flynn’s late goal seals victory for Temple Villa in thriller

Melville 3 Temple Villa 4

John Dingle reports

Temple Villa remain on course to lift the CCFL Division Two title after edging out third placed Melville FC by the odd goal in seven at Sarsfield Park last Sunday morning.

Six goals were shared in the opening half and it looked like a point apiece until late in the game when Villa substitute Liam Flynn struck for the winner.

Melville went into the game with an outside chance of claiming the title but really needed to beat table toppers Villa to keep their hopes alive. The Athlone team certainly put it up to the visitors in an action-packed opening half.

There were three goals in the first ten minutes as it appeared almost every attack would yield a dividend. Villa opened the scoring in the third minute after Benny Magennis had been fouled by Gregg O’Flanagan. Jason Hyland took the resulting free kick which flew past the defensive wall and under the keeper’s body into the net.

The lead lasted all of four minutes as Corey Jinks latched onto a long ball forward to fire past Paul Bannon in the Villa goal.

The home team took the lead after ten minutes from the penalty spot when Peter Sherlock was penalised for handball. Jinks made no mistake as he sent Bannon the wrong way with the spot kick.

Villa earned the first corner kick on the quarter hour mark, with Jinks then firing across the goal from the left as he pursued an early hat-trick for the hosts. Another handball allowed Villa to level matters after 21 minutes. Anthony Allen drilled the resulting penalty kick low past the keeper's left.

Melville tried hard to regain the lead as Kelin Quinn headed over and was then involved in a good move on the half hour mark that could have led to a goal. Jinks passed to Quinn whose shot was blocked by the keeper as a spectacular Mark McConnell overhead attempt then flew wide.

An entertaining half continued with another Melville corner and Magennis being denied by Sean Keena who tipped his shot over the bar. The former Willow Park ace was further denied by the keeper but Villa edged in front for the first time after 40 minutes, with Damien Rushe setting up David Cleary for a goal.

The goal fest continued with Melville back on level terms three minutes before the break. McConnell found the net at the second attempt from a tight angle after his initial effort had been blocked by Bannon. The action ended with a Villa corner with little complaint at the entertainment value in the opening half.

The game was delicately balanced heading into the second half but a point apiece was of little value to either team in their pursuit of honours. Mullingar Celtic would avail of any slip up by Villa while Melville, although in the top three, realistically needed all three points to maintain a continuing interest in the destiny of the title.

Considering what was at stake, the second half proved to be disappointing, with a goal in the final five minutes eventually settling the issue.

Melville were on the attack early in the half as they looked to regain the lead. First chance fell to Danny McManus who headed Eric Donoghue's free kick wide. Two more corners were forced by the hosts while Villa's first chance fell to Dean O’Neill whose shot was blocked by the keeper.

A corner followed for the visitors before the hour mark but it was the last noteworthy action for some time as the game headed into the doldrums. Jinks was on a hat trick and his strike which Bannon blocked after 81 minutes was the next time the crowd were brought to life.

The Villa keeper again denied Jinks moments later but there was little action to rival the excitement of the opening half. O’Neill sent in a cross for Villa which flew wide with Melville substitute Kevin Lawless drilling a free kick over the bar.

As the game headed into the last five minutes, it looked like the spoils would be shared. It was an outcome neither team desired but a winner arrived three minutes from the finish. Two Villa subs were involved as Jay Conlon’s initial shot was blocked but Flynn was on hand to finish to the net. It was rough justice for Melville and there was no response from the home team in the remaining minutes.

In the fifth additional minute, Rushe tried his luck from long range but Keena got back to gather the ball and deny the veteran midfielder an opportunistic score.

Man of the match: Damien Rushe (Temple Villa). Another vintage display in the middle of the park from the number six keeps Villa in contention for honours with just three games now remaining.

Melville: Sean Keena, Adam O’Brien, Danny McManus, Gregg O’Flanagan, Cathal Stacey, Mark Duffy, Eric Donoghue, Kelin Quinn, Corey Jinks, Mark McConnell, Liam Flowers. Subs: Kevin Lawless and Conor Rushe for Quinn and McConnell (66 mins); Cian Hayden for Donoghue (75).

Temple Villa: Paul Bannon, Dean O’Neill, Danny Seery, Ollie Nally, Peter Sherlock, Damien Rushe, Darren Nugent, David Cleary, Jason Hyland, Benny Magennis, Anthony Allen. Subs: Liam Flynn for Cleary (65 mins); Jay Conlon for Nugent (76); Donovan Hermbusche for Hyland (79); Kallum Nugent for Allen (90).

Referee: Paul Tone (Athlone).