Saturday saw the second meeting between these two Ballynahinch rivals having previously played at Dromara earlier in the season in the first ever league fixture between the teams. On Saturday Olympic were the victors thanks to a superb display of goal scoring by Niall Murray who bagged himself a hat trick. For Olympic the win avenged the defeat inflicted on them by United in the earlier game.
Millbridge was the scene for this derby clash and if the large crowd that turned up were hoping to see a feisty encounter then they will have been sadly disappointed because both teams tried to play football throughout.
United fielded without Greg Allison who was absent through illness while the experienced Ross Hayes and Davy Boal were missing through suspension however in the early exchanges you would not have thought that. United laid siege to the Olympic defence forcing a number of corners and going close to scoring on several occasions. Olympic weathered the storm and played their way into the game and on 20 minutes they took the lead from the penalty spot after Adam Herron had been adjudged to have fouled. Olympic’s ace marksman Niall Murray converted.
The home side pressed for an equaliser and it came in the 35th minute when Ian McMullan picked out Aaron McCaffrey with a long ball into the Olympic penalty area and he was upended. David Kelly dispatched the resultant penalty kick to evens things up.
It looked as if the teams would go in at half time level however United conceded a needless free kick some thirty yards out and would pay the penalty for the indiscretion. The ball was floated into the penalty area and Bryan McMullan fisted it clear under a strong aerial challenge and it fell kindly to Murray on the edge of the penalty area and he dispatched it on the volley into the empty goal.
United came out in the second half determined to get back into the game while Olympic seemed happy to sit back and while it was a fairly risky strategy considering the amount of possession that the home team had it worked mainly because United’s age old problem of not scoring enough goals to justify the possession they have continues to haunt them.
On the 50 minute mark Olympic took a 3 – 1 lead when Murray broke free and despite the presence of defender Ethan Majury and goal keeper Bryan McMullan he managed to thread the ball into the net.
Despite this set back United threw everything at Olympic in an effort to get back into the game with Dalton Tate, Stuart McMullan, Gavin Crawford, Aaron Cheevers and the outstanding Scot Brashaw pressing forward at every opportunity. The Olympic defence held strong despite living dangerously on a number of occasions and they killed the game off in the 70th minute when Chris McVarnock broke free and scored a fine individual goal to put the game out of United’s reach.
United introduced substitutes Paul Dickson, Gareth Bingham and Gareth McMullan and did have the ball in the net in the 75th minute but it was ruled out for offside while late in the game David Kelly who worked hard throughout almost scored when his deep cross deceived the Olympic goal keeper and hit the post but fell to defender who cleared.
So on this occasion Olympic had the bragging rights with the honours even over the two games. I suspect that both teams will be meeting again next season given Newcastle’s present league form and a lead of fourteen points in the division while East Belfast and 1st Bangor have a large number of games in hand and seem very strong.