JOHN Roberts’ 89th minute strike earned Ramsey a share of the spoils as they came from behind to snatch a dramatic 2-2 daw with St Mary’s at Springfield Road on Saturday afternoon.
Canada Life Premier League leading goalscorer Steven Priestnal looked to have sealed all three points for the Saints after coolly converting a late penalty but Roberts had the last laugh with a well-placed 20-yard strike with seconds remaining.
Peter Langridge’s hosts began the contest positively and Roberts had to be alert to deny Marc Priestnal a scoring chance inside five minutes after the striker was put clean through, while the northerners’ first chance came courtesy of a marauding run from winger Matt Skillicorn who cut in from the right before curling a left-footed effort which sailed just over keeper Max Thomas’s goal.
St Mary’s midfielder Brian Crellin was able to provide inspiration on the left-hand side and, as the half progressed, he steadily grew in influence, providing his forwards with plenty of ammunition deep in Ramsey territory.
Despite two of the island’s finest goalkeepers both on display, neither shot-stopper was called into serious action until the 19th minute when Saints full-back Tony Cain delivered a superb cross which was met with a glancing header from Martin Reilly but a combination of keeper Andy Perry and left-back Jamie Arneil were able to stop the ball on the goal-line.
Crellin then came closest to troubling the scorers just after the half-hour mark when he embarked on a mazy run down the wing, leaving three visiting defenders in his wake before cutting into the area and attempting an ambitious angled lob over Perry but Arneil was once again alert to the danger and headed off the line.
As half-time approached, Ray Rowley and Dave Perry’s northerners began to impose themselves onto proceedings and they very nearly took the lead when Jamie Moffatt beat the offside trap to latch onto an inch-perfect Danny Foulis through ball. With just Max Thomas to beat, the Ramsey No.9 saw his first effort parried before he fired the rebound agonisingly wide with the goal at his mercy.
However, they weren’t to be denied much longer as they broke the deadlock with just two minutes of the half remaining when Foulis expertly controlled a cross-field ball on the edge of the Saints area before rifling a half-volley past the despairing dive of Thomas and into the right-hand corner of the goal for 1-0.
Their lead lasted until only two minutes into the second period, though, and Crellin was once again at the heart of the move that brought the home side level. Finding himself in space out on the left wing, Crellin surged into the box before firing goalwards and, despite seeing his effort saved by Perry, Marc Priestnal reacted quickest to turn home the rebound on the slide.
The goal instilled a new belief into Langridge’s men and they almost completed an instant turnaround minutes later but, after some confusion in Ramsey’s defence, Crellin’s goal-bound shot was deflected to safety by Roberts.
The Saints made their first substitution in the 52nd minute when Tom Weir came on for Connor Gorman and the former almost made an instant impact when he latched onto skipper Martin King’s long free-kick before slotting past Perry, only for the offside flag to cut short his celebrations.
Thomas was called into action shortly after the hour mark following a quick throw-in from the right released Ramsey’s Skillicorn who burst into the area but his stinging drive was beaten away by the Saints keeper.
Minutes later it was one of the northern subs who almost made an immediate impact when Kris Halsall tried his luck from all of 40 yards, only for his strike to fly narrowly over the bar. Steven Priestnal then entered the fray and he too almost scored within seconds when he was put clean through but his side-footed effort was well saved by the outstretched Perry.
Liam Doyle and Steven Priestnal then both went close again for the hosts, only to be denied by the Ramsey shot-stopper, but there was nothing Perry could do when St Mary’s were awarded a penalty after Weir was fouled inside the box following a corner. Up stepped Priestnal to mark his return from injury with a goal that looked set to claim all three points for the Saints.
Ramsey, however, to their credit kept on plugging away and were rewarded when the Saints defence failed to deal with a ball to the edge of the area and Roberts was somehow able to toe-poke home into the top left corner from all of 20 yards in a pulsating climax to the game.
The drama was not finished there, though, and the hosts twice came close to snatching the win right at the death when first Reilly saw a fierce shot headed off the line by the dominant Arneil before former RYCOB player Jonny Shields did likewise to deny Steven Priestnal in the 94th minute.
St Mary’s: Max Thomas, Keith Byrne, Tony Cain, Martin King (c), Dominic McGreevy, Connor Gorman (Tom Weir 52m), Liam Cowin (Josh Cowie 80m), Brian Crellin, Marc Priestnal (Steven Priestnal 69m), Martin Reilly, Liam Doyle
Ramsey: Andy Perry, Robbie Collister, Jamie Arneil, Lewis Qualtrough, John Roberts, Danny Foulis, Jonny Shields, Paul Rowley (c), Jamie Moffatt (Kris Halsall 66m), Danny Oram, Matt Skillicorn. Subs not used: Liam Perry and Robbie Campbell
Referee: Colin Coole
Assistants: Tony McMeiken and Dave Hughes
Man of the Match: Crellin (St Mary’s) - was a constant threat throughout the match and was at the heart of most of St Marys’ attacking moves
Match rating: HHHHI
l AYRE United all but secured their Canada Life Premier League survival and edged Michael a step closer to relegation with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Balleira Road on Saturday afternoon.
In one of only three top flight fixtures to go ahead after the poor weather, the Tangerines struck three times in the second half through Matt Montgomery, James Teare and last season’s silver boot winner Jason Craine.
The result moves the northerners up to eighth in the table and leaves Michael just five points clear of the drop zone having crucially played two games more than the side below them, Gymns.