A dramatic injury time winner from Vinny Murphy clinched all 3 points for Johnstown as they finally opened their account this season, with a 5 goal thriller at the MDL on Thursday night.
The night began in familiar fashion. A loose ball in midfield was pounced on by the visitors. A couple of quick passes later, their front man was released and bearing down on goal. With Dan Shields backpedalling frantically, the Trim man’s effort came back off the crossbar. An early scare for Johnstown.
Soon after though, Trim Town hit the front. A quick break, followed by an unstoppable shot from just inside the area left Shields unable to keep it out at his near post with barely a quarter of an hour played.
As the clock ticked onto 30 minutes, a rather unsavoury incident on half way lead to the visitors being reduced to 10 men for striking out at Jason Colton on the ground.
Colton was involved in a more positive aspect of the game just before the interval. Following his strong run down the right, he fed Justin Flynn whose shot did not trouble the keeper.
With the numerical advantage, Johnstown started the 2nd half strongly. A Peter Dempsey lay off to Vinny Murphy led to the latter’s shot being deflected wide for a corner. The corner eventually broke to Sean Challenger on the edge of the area where he attempted to place his shot inside the left hand corner of the goal. However, on this occasion he could not impart enough bend on his effort and it went narrowly wide.
10 minutes into the half, Johnstown were level. A rapier-like break out from the back saw Wayne Cahill release Murphy down the left. His driven low cross found Dempsey at the back post. Illustrating an unselfish steak, the veteran teed up the onrushing Brian Gibney who finished off the move drawing his side level.
Just after the hour mark, Johnstown conceded a soft free kick about 25 yards from goal. The shot was spilled and with no Johnstown players following in, Trim Town were left with a simple tap in to restore their lead.
Johnstown’s second equaliser came on 74 minutes thanks to 2 second half substitutes. Arnold Luco, returning from injury, beat a couple of defenders down the right before picking out Dave Grumley, free in the area. With time to settle, Grumley blasted the ball home making 2-2.
For the rest of the match, Johnstown pressed and probed but could not find a finishing touch, all the while Trim Town were dangerous on the break, until the final moments of the game.
With 4 minutes of injury time elapsed, a Jamie Connolly cross to the back post, was met by Dave Grumley with the goal gaping. Showing the intelligence and experience garnered from many a year playing at his level, Grumley, rather than going for goal with defenders and keeper closing the available target, picked out Vinny Murphy with his header back across goal. Murphy, not needing a 2nd invitation, drilled home the winner, cueing celebrations among players, staff and supporters on the touchline, born as much from relief as from joy.
Johnstown FC Team: D. Shields, J. Colton, J. Connolly, D. McQuillan (c), J. Gaffney, J. Flynn, S. Challenger, B. Gibney, P. Dempsey, V. Murphy, W. Cahill
Subs: A. Luco for Flynn, D. Grumley for Dempsey, J. Forde for Gaffney .