Cockhill Celtic 3
Letterkenny Rovers 1

An under-strength Cockhill side exceeded expectations in an early season clash between the perennial big two in the USL.

Letterkenny started the brighter and had the first chance on two minutes. Declan Sharkey made a good run into right channel. He pulled the ball back to Johnny Bonner. His cross was glanced wide by Kevin McGrath with Darren McElwaine well placed.

McGrath had another half chance on nine minutes after a pullback from McElwaine but his shot was well blocked by Gerard McLaughlin.

Cockhill's first chance came on 12 minutes when a Gerry Gill corner was headed over by Bart.

Cockhill took the lead on the half-hour. A Gill free kick was played into Brendan McLaughlin who swivelled and fired into the top corner giving Rory Kelly no chance from the edge of the box.

The home side were on top now and made it 2-0 six minutes later. Marty Doherty played a delightful through ball into the inside right channel to Brendan McLaughlin. His initial effort was parried by Kelly but he tucked away the rebound.

Kelly kept it at 2-0 minutes later denying Mark Moran with a good save.

Against the run of play, Rovers created a chance when Ryan McConnell intercepted in midfield before playing a great ball across the Cockhill box which just evaded the arriving Sharkey.

On the stroke of half time, McLaughlin almost had his hat-trick when his shot hit the post after he was teed up by Moran.

The second half started with Cockhill content to play deep and, while dominating possession, Rovers failed to create any clear chances.

The first clear chance of the half came on the hour when Conor McNamee made ground on the right. His cross volleyed over by McLaughlin on the stretch.

On 68 minutes, Rovers sub BJ Banda found a pocket of space in front of the Cockhill defence. His fierce left foot strike clipping the bar on the way over.

It was 3-0 Cockhill on 73 and started from a Rovers free kick on the edge of the Cockhill box. Lee Toland's free kick was charged down. Bart Wesolowski chased down the resultant clearance, outmuscling McConnell and crossed for Moran to slot home.

It looked like game over but Rovers kept going and were awarded a penalty eight minutes from the end, which Toland converted, sending Lee McCarron the wrong way.

This gave Rovers renewed belief and Banda was out of luck when his shot hit the side netting.

They had another chance to reduce the deficit when a Toland mishit shot found Conor Tourish. But he was denied by a last gasp tackle from Gill.

Cockhill Celtic:

Lee McCarron, Conor McNamee, Gerard McLaughlin, Paul McDermott, Lee McColgan, Denim McLaughlin, Gerry Gill, Brendan McLaughlin, Marty Doherty, Bart Wesolowski, Mark Moran

Letterkenny Rovers:

Rory Kelly, Kevin McGrath, Lee Toland, Ryan McConnell, Conor Tourish, Matt Harkin, Jonny Bonner, Chris Malseed, Darren McElwaine, Christy Conaghan, Declan Sharkey

Referee: Vincent McLaughlin

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