NFC Kesh 2 Lisbellaw United 2

Lisbellaw grabbed another valuable point in their battle to stave off relegation, with Kesh missing a late penalty that would have earned them the win.

Mark McAuley had given Kesh the lead early in the second half but goals from Stuart Cochrane and Sean Keenan turned the game in Lisbellaw’s favour, before Mark Jones netted an equaliser.

Lisbellaw manager Kyle McCleery reckoned his side were worthy of the draw.

“I think we were well worth a point, and a draw was a fair result overall,” he said.

“We missed a few good chances but Kesh missed a penalty and at that stage I would have bitten your hand off for a point. It was a good game and both sides really, really wanted to win the game. In the end I was happy enough to get the point. I was pleased with our attitude, our work rate, and our commitment. Our reaction to going one down was positive, my only complaint was that we couldn’t steady the ship after we went 2-1 up and weather the storm that Kesh threw at us.

“We should have shown better composure in front of goal, but I am taking the positives from it. It is another point and four from our last two games. It’s another good performance and it sets us up well for a crucial game at home to Mountjoy and then away at Strule the week after.

“These next two weeks are going to be absolutely crucial for us. If we want to give ourselves any chance of staying up I think we need to be looking to get six points.”

Kesh manager Nicky Noble was frustrated his side did not take their chances when they were on top.

“I thought we dominated in the first half but we couldn’t get the breakthrough,” he said.

“They defended well and they worked hard and maybe for their work rate they deserved a point at the end of it. We played good football in the first half but couldn’t push on. We are lacking a wee cutting edge at the moment but we will keep working away at it. We could have won it and we could have lost it.

“We still have11 games to play and if we win half of them we are up to fourth or fifth so I’m not panicking yet.”

There was a lack of early drama in the match, with the closest Kesh came to breaking the deadlock coming from a Walker corner that came off the crossbar.

Jamie Coulter also had to clear from under his own crossbar, and Mark McAuley and Mark Jones both had long range efforts off target.

The game sprung to life in the second half, with Kesh opening the scoring in spectacular style. Alex Holder and Jake Irvine exchanged passes before Irvine connected with a scissor kick that found the top corner.

Lisbellaw responded well and were almost level straight from the kick off but Paul McGrath could not find the net when he was through on the keeper.

Lisbellaw brought on Ryan O’Keefe and Shane Ingram, and the pair of strikers helped get their side on level terms when O’Keefe challenged for Keenan’s free kick, with the loose ball dropping for centre back Stuart Cochrane to stab home from close range.

Lisbellaw took the lead in controversial circumstances when they were awarded a penalty for a high foot following a corner. Kesh disputed the decision but Sean Keenan stepped up and sent the keeper the wrong way from the spot.

The lead only lasted two minutes before Walker crossed for Mark Jones to tap in and level, but there was still time for late drama. O’Keefe missed a one on one with the keeper for Lisbellaw, before Kesh were awarded a penalty in the dying minutes for a handball.

Lee Walker smashed the spot kick off the underside of the bar and the bouncing ball was scrambled clear, but Lisbellaw had a late chance of their own.

Ingram got to the byline and cut the ball back for O’Keefe, but from six yards out he dragged his shot wide of the post as the game finished level.