DOUGLAS High School Old Boys moved up to fourth place in the Canada Life Premier League table after coming from behind to record a hard-fought 1-2 win over Corinthians at Ballafletcher on Saturday afternoon.
Lewis Griffiths gave the hosts a first-half lead and looked for a long time like securing an impressive double following their 4-2 victory at Blackberry Lane in September.
However, Brian Gartland’s visitors kept plugging away and, although they were denied by the woodwork several times, Lee Gartland struck twice in 11 second half minutes to secure all three points.
Old Boys flew out of the traps early on and should have taken a fourth-minute lead when Callum Stewart latched onto Martin King’s long pass before rounding Corinthians goalkeeper Joe Kelly but he fired wide from an acute angle with the goal at his mercy.
They were almost made to pay for that miss immediately when Corinthians broke down the other end and the ball fell to Josh Ridings but his half-volley flashed inches past the wrong side of the post.
With 10 minutes played the visitors were guilty of wasting another glorious chance to break the deadlock when Callum Stewart won possession deep in opposition territory, surged into the area before squaring the ball to the unmarked Lee Gartland but the midfielder blazed over the bar when a goal looked certain.
A minute later DHSOB went close again, this time through John Quirk who met captain Craig Stewart’s lay-off with a thunderous strike from 30 yards out but his strike was superbly repelled by Kelly.
Chances continued to fall Old Boys’ way but Phil Knox and the Stewart brothers all failed to find a way past Kelly and gradually the hosts began to gain a foothold on the game.
Just before the half-hour mark a quick throw-in by Max Neale found substitute Mike Callister on the edge of the box who turned sharply before firing goalwards but his low effort was saved by Sam Halliday.
The hosts weren’t to be denied five minutes later though when Neale again turned provider, sliding a neat ball through to Griffiths who beat the offside trap and slotted past the onrushing Halliday to give Corinthians the lead.
Despite back on the backfoot for most of the first half, all of a sudden the hosts had a spring in the step and could have doubled their advantage just before the break when Chris Feeney and Griffiths combined to release Neale whose cross was parried by Halliday into the path of Callister. However, just when it looked like he would slot home in the unguarded net, he lost his footing and Old Boys survived.
The Whites began the second half the way they ended the first and felt they should have had a penalty in the 50th minute when Griffiths’s cross appeared to strike an arm but referee John McCallum waved play on.
In-form Darren Hudgeon was introduced into the fray in place of the injured Phil Knox and the big striker’s presence gave Old Boys more options up front as the momentum gradually began to swing back in the visitors’ favour.
With 57 minutes on the clock Hudgeon rose highest to meet a David Quirk corner from the right but his header was deflected just wide of the target. He then went even closer from the resulting corner when his header cannoned back off the crossbar but Corinthians survived.
However, the pressure finally told 10 minutes later despite the visitors being denied by the woodwork again. Old Boys won the ball in the Whites half and the ball was fed to Hudgeon who, from the corner of the area, tried his luck with a venomous effort which crashed back off the woodwork.
The rebound fell to the lurking Craig Stewart who fired goalwards, only to see Danny McMahon brilliantly head the ball off the line. Unfortunately for the hosts, the ball dropped to Gartland who made no mistake from six yards out to level matters.
The game continued in much the same vein, with Old Boys pressing for the all-important next goal. It duly arrived 11 minutes later when Callum Stewart released Gartland through on goal and, from the edge of the area, he side-footed past Kelly to give his side a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
Corinthians: Joe Kelly, Tom Callister, Darren Cain, Chris Feeney, Noel Quigley, Stuart Smith, Ryan Burns (Michael Callister 11m), Danny McMahon, Josh Ridings (Kane Ridings 71m), Max Neale (Blane Slattery 80m), Lewis Griffiths
DHSOB: Sam Halliday, John Quirk, Liam Buckley (Karl Gartland 83), Martin King, Tommy Miller, David Quirk (Lee Ford 64m), Craig Stewart ©, Michael Hooper, Phil Knox (Darren Hudgeon 45m), Lee Gartland, Callum Stewart
Referee: John McCallum
Assistants: Danny Cowin and Mark Todd
Booked: (N. Quigley, L. Griffiths, B. Slattery (C’thians)
Man of the Match: Gartland (DHSOB) – aside from his two match-winning goals, the midfielder troubled the opposition on numerous occasions and held up the play well to bring his team-mates in the to game Match rating: HHHHH