St George’s booked their place in Boxing Day’s Railway Cup final with a high-scoring 9-3 victory over holders Corinthians on Saturday afternoon.
Geordies’ ever-green front pair of Ste Priestnal and Ciaran McNulty produced a masterclass of finishing, netting six goals between them as they put the Ballafletcher outfit to the sword in what prior to the match had looked likely to be a tight contest.
The match was remarkable not just for the scoreline, but for the fact it went ahead with the majority of Saturday afternoon’s other matches, including the other semi between Ayre and Rushen, succumbing to the weather.
Despite the howling wind sweeping across the pitch and the wintry showers that peppered Glencrutchery Road for much of the first half, the hosts came flying out of the traps, building up a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes.
The tie was barely a couple of minutes old when Priestnal got the first of his four-goal haul, the former St Mary’s striker adjusting his run to head in a cross from the right.
As a Whites side shorn of its FC Isle of Man contingent, bar keeper Matthew Quirk, reeled McNulty doubled the hosts’ advantage with a tremendous first-time finish from the edge of the area after youngster Morgan Naylor’s determined run.
McNulty’s effort was soon matched by midfielder John Lund, who marked his recent re-signing from RYCOB with another lovely finish from the edge of the beleaguered visitors’ box.
Lund’s strike finally seemed to sting the Ballafletcher outfit into life and they enjoyed their best spell of the half.
Despite the conditions the Whites began to knock the ball around well, but crucially couldn’t find a way past an inspired Sean Quaye in the Geordies backline who snuffed out good chances for both Danny Gerrard and Josh Ridings when the pair were homing in on goal.
Somewhat against the run of play, Geordies grabbed a fourth in the 40th minute when Connor Birch charged forward from midfield and released McNulty down the left.
The former Gymns and Michael United striker slung in a hopeful low cross that the unfortunate Corinthians defender Stewart Smith turned into his own goal.
With only minutes left on referee Stuart Kneen’s watch at the end of the opening 45, the Whites pulled one back at a corner when a Geordies defender sliced the ball into his own net to make it 4-1.
Johnny Myers’s home side started the second half in a similar vein to the first and only a fine save from Quirk stopped the livewire Priestnal from cashing in on some slack Corinthians defending minutes after the restart.
Priestnal and McNulty’s influence in the tie grew further as the match began to open up and the latter grabbed his second of the encounter when he was teed up by his strike-partner in the 55th minute.
McNulty repaid the favour in the 73rd minute, Priestnal’s hat-trick strike making it 6-1. A Priestnal corner then gave ex-St Mary’s man Karl Clark the opportunity to thump home a header and make it 7-1.
Corinthians’ substitute and former St George’s winger Kane Ridings netted a second consolation for the Whites moments later as the goals continued to fall out of the tie.
Priestnal’s fourth was almost a trademark strike for a man that has plundered hundreds of similar goals over the years, the Saints’ forward latching onto a long ball, using his pace to break the Corinthians’ offside trap and round Quirk before slotting the ball home.
Matty Kent-Lloyd headed in a third for Corinthians after being picked out by Kane Ridings’s cross, before fittingly Priestnal completed the game’s scoring in the 83rd minute when he fired home McNulty’s lay-off from a Clark free-kick from deep.
Kent-Lloyd nearly grabbed a fourth for Corinthians in stoppage time, but fired over Ben Wilkinson’s goal after bundling his way through the St George’s defence.
The other Railway Cup semi-final between Ayre Unnited v Rushen United was called off at the last minute on Saturday afternoon as a result of standing water on the pitch at the Andreas Playing Fields.
The match will now be replayed this Saturday.