NFC Kesh 2 Strule United 1 NFC Kesh’s remarkable revival continued on Saturday, with their third win in four games leaving them seven points clear of the relegation zone.

Prior to the game against fellow relegation strugglers Strule, Kesh manager Niall Amos had labelled the game as ‘winner takes all’ in the battle for survival in division one. He must have feared the worst when his side were trailing 1-0 and down to ten men with 15 minutes remaining, but they produced a remarkable finish with goals from Jamie Middlemass and Grant Ellis turning the game on its head and putting Kesh into a strong position in the league standings.

“We got the win and it was massive and we are looking a lot better than we were,” acknowledged Niall after the game. “It was a big run of games for us and we have picked up ten points from five games. To be honest I didn’t think that sort of run was going to come all season. We had pencilled in six games where we would have to produce something and we took points in four or five of them so that wasn’t a bad return. We were bottom from the third game of the season at the start of September until a few weeks ago so it shows you how quickly it can change. When you start to win the confidence starts to build and it is like night and day compared to earlier in the season. Mathematically we are not safe but Strule have won two games in the league all season and they now have to win three out of the last four. I would have settled for that situation a month ago. We are in a fantastic position at the minute. Hopefully that will be enough but we will have to see what happens.”

There was little in the way of clear cut chances in a tight and tense first half, with neither side able to establish a decisive advantage. Kesh came closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the half when a cross was touched onto the crossbar by the keeper, and late in the half Clint Thompson’s effort from a corner was straight at the keeper as the game reached the interval goalless.

The midfield battle continued at the start of the second half but on the hour mark it looked as though Strule might take the crucial three points when they finally found the net. Ten minutes later the game seemed to take another shift in their favour when Kesh’s Kevin McElroy was dismissed for violent conduct, but the ten remaining players were not giving up. With 15 minutes remaining Craig Morton lofted a free kick into the penalty area and Jamie Middlemass fired into the roof of the net to equalise. Five minutes from time the home fans were celebrating again when centre half Grant Ellis pounced on a loose ball following a Lee Walker corner, firing the ball into the net to secure the three points that might secure Kesh another season in the top division.