Four-some Saints defeat Rushen United

CUP CONTENDERS: The St Mary's side that defeated Rushen 0-4 at Croit Lowey on Saturday to set up a quarter-final tie with near-neighbours Pulrose

CUP CONTENDERS: The St Mary's side that defeated Rushen 0-4 at Croit Lowey on Saturday to set up a quarter-final tie with near-neighbours Pulrose

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ST Mary’s brushed aside the challenge from their rivals Rushen United at Croit Lowey on Saturday with a comfortable 0-4 victory in the Paddy Power FA Cup first round.

The six times former winner of the competition, who last collected the trophy in 2002, can now look forward to an intriguing clash with neighbours Pulrose United in the second round.

Saturday’s contest, however, failed to live up to it’s billing with the visitors scoring twice in each half to easily dispose of a Port Erin side that were desperately short of fire power.

Ironically it was Mark Heywood’s side that made the better start and Saints defender Tony Cain was forced into a dramatic clearance in the opening moments of the game.

Aaron Hawley then played in Steve Riding but his quickly taken header flew benignly past an upright.

As Sam Kenny’s team worked their way into the tie the threat that the visitors posed became evident as the lively Stephen Whitley fired a fine opportunity wide of the target.

The home fans though remained optimistic as a well-taken Adam Cregeen free-kick had to be smartly headed over his own bar by impressive defender Karl Clark.

Then with 27 minutes on the clock the deadlock was broken when Rushen failed to clear their lines before Martin Reilly pounced to fire past keeper Tom Strivens.

The Saints upped their game and the busy James Murphy flashed a fine first-time effort inches wide.

Then right on the half-time whistle the Saints made it two as Whitley evaded the offside trap before racing clear of the home defence to cross for Steven Priestnal to score with ease.

Once again the southerners made a lively start to the second half but found great difficulty in pressuring Max Thomas’s goal.

The Douglas side though were alwaysdangerous on the break and Steven Priestnal uncharacteristically squandered a glorious opportunity right in front of the Rushen goal to make it three.

Minutes later, however, the visitors duly added the third when keeper Strivens brought down the irrepressible Whitley in the box and Priestnal made amends for his earlier miss by confidently scoring from the spot.

Following the goal the Spaniards briefly rallied but the solid all-round team performance from the Saints allowed the hosts few chances on goal.

Even a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the box by Jack Saxon was handled with consummate ease by the well positioned Thomas.

The final goal, 10 minutes from the end, summed up the home sides’ disappointing day.

A Connor Gorman free-kick from well outside the box completely deceived the home defence before nestling in the far corner of the goal.

At the conclusion of the game it was evident that Rushen had missed the presence of leading striker Michael Williams far more than the Saints had missed the equally talented midfielder Brian Crellin.

TEAM CHECK

Rushen: Tom Strivens, Alex Maitland (Ryan Crawley) Alex Guy, Adam Cregeen, Michael Baker, Jordan Watterson, Jack Saxon, Chris Shimmin, Steve Riding, Aaron Hawley, Neil Curphey (Steven Harris)

St Mary’s: Max Thomas, James Murphy (Dean Spencer), Tony Cain, Dominic McGreevy, Karl Clark, Martin Reilly, Tom Weir, Connor Gorman, Steven Priestnal, Stephen Whitley (Darren Smethurst) Marc Priestnal.

Referee: John Lovelady - Another solid all-round performance from a highly confident match official.

Assistants: Chris Taggart and Mark Todd.

Man of the Match: Whitley (St Mary’s) A real scourge to the Rushen defence always looking to win the ball.

Match Rating: HHHHH

Attendance: 179

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