St George’s booked their place in the semi-finals of this season’s Railway Cup with victory over Douglas Royal at a blustery and ice-cold Ballafletcher last Saturday.
But it wasn’t all plain sailing for the Glencrutchery Road outfit as they were forced to come from 2-0 down before a second-half flurry sealed a high-scoring win against the Whites.
The home side opened the scoring after only 11 minutes when Adam Pate’s in-swinging corner was caught by the wind and deceived Saints goalkeeper Ben Wilkinson before nestling into the back of the net.
With the conditions not conducive to flowing football, Geordies struggled to gain any sort of momentum and they found themselves two down less than 10 minutes later.
Royal defender Hadyn Waddington played a good ball to lively winger Dominic McHarrie-Brennan who embarked on a brilliant run through the visitors’ defence before coolly slotting home to leave his side in control.
But the deficit was halved only three minutes later when the ever-dangerous Ciaran McNulty continued his rich vein of form in front of goal with a fine finish from the edge of the box.
The scorer then played a part in the equaliser when he released Ash Higginbotham down the left and he surged into the box before firing a fierce angled strike goalwards.
Despite keeper Harry Horbury brilliantly tipping the shot onto the bar, Geordies defender Alex Harrison was on hand to turn home the ball from close range to make it 2-2.
With the momentum now firmly in the Saints’ favour, Johnny Myers’ men completed the turnaround before half-time and it was that man Harrison again who finished smartly from just inside the box to put his side ahead at the interval.
After the break, Horbury had to be at his best to produce a brilliant double save to deny Connor Birch, including tipping a rebound onto the bar from point-blank range.
But there was nothing the Royal keeper could to to prevent Nathan Cardy doubling Geordies’ lead with a superb goal just shy of the hour mark when the 18-year-old launched a quick counter-attack and, using McNulty as a decoy, he surged through the Whites defence before firing an outstanding finish into the top right corner of the net with the outside of his foot.
The points were sealed on 71 minutes when Higginbotham and McNulty combined to set up Birch inside the area who this time found a way past Horbury with a low finish.
Another goal arrived nine minutes later when McNulty sent Birch racing into the area where the midfielder was brought down, allowing the former to fire home from the spot despite Horbury very nearly keeping his effort out.
After Ste Priestnal went agonisingly close to getting his name on the scoresheet when his effort smashed back off the post, the scoring was completed in injury-time with arguably the goal of the game.
The ball was worked to the impressive Higginbotham and, with the Royal defence backing off, he took aim from 25 yards out and curled a sublime shot into the top right corner of the net to spectacularly round off a 7-2 win for St George’s.