Lisbellaw United 1 NFC Kesh 1

Lisbellaw United and Mountjoy United face a play off as they both look to avoid relegation from Division One.

Lisbellaw’s 1-1 draw with NFC Kesh and Mountjoy’s 5-1 victory over Strule United left the two sides locked on 22 points apiece, as Dergview Reserves escaped on an evening of drama.

At the start of the night three teams faced the prospect of joining Strule in the drop zone. Mountjoy needed a result to have any chance of survival, with Dergview needing to at least match Mountjoy’s result to stay ahead of them. Lisbellaw needed a victory over Kesh to be assured of survival, but a draw would have been enough if either of the two teams below them did not win.

Mountjoy gave themselves hope with a 5-1 victory over Strule, and Dergview Reserves secured their spot in Division One for next season with a 2-1 victory over the league champions, Enniskillen Rangers.

Those results meant Lisbellaw needed to win but they could only manage a draw at home to Kesh, and that has set up one further tension filled 90 minutes as Mountjoy and Lisbellaw go head to head.

Kesh were keen to sign off Nicky Noble’s tenure as manager with a win, but there was a lot at stake for Lisbellaw and although they fell behind to a second half Josh Flack goal, Shane Ingram’s close range effort earned them a second shot at survival.

“I am happy that we came from a goal down and we have another bite of the cherry,” said Lisbellaw manager Kyle McCleery.

“It has been a difficult season and six or seven weeks ago if you had offered me a play-off I would have taken it, so we will keep the heads up. We are hungry for it. We want to secure our first division status and we will be going all out to try and do that against Mountjoy.

"I was happy with the character the boys showed to come back from one nil down and we will draw the positives and take that into the play off. We have to regroup, roll the sleeves up and give it our best.”

In a tight first half it was Kesh who came closest to breaking the deadlock with a shot that came back off the crossbar, but McCleery thought his side had enough chances to take an early lead.

“I felt we were shading it in the first half, but only just,” he said. “We had created four or five chances early on and I felt like it would come for us. For a team having nothing to play for in the league Kesh were well up for it and it was a tough battle. In the second half we looked like the team most likely to score but it just wouldn’t drop for us. We reacted well after we conceded and got the momentum back with us fairly quickly, and got the equaliser that we deserved.”

Sam Lindsay’s effort from six yards was the closest Lisbellaw had come to scoring in the opening half, with Paul McGrath and Ryan O’Keefe all failing to get a decisive touch when well placed.

In the second half it was Kesh that grabbed the opening goal when Josh Flack scored from inside the six yard box, but Lisbellaw responded when Ingram bundled the ball over the line after a shot from Woods.

In injury time Lisbellaw were presented with a great chance to snatch a late winner, but Kesh goalkeeper Ross McClelland saved with his legs from Ingram’s shot.

The results set up a winners takes all match against Mountjoy. The sides have met twice this season, with the Omagh side shading their previous encounters.

The first meeting saw Lisbellaw lose 8-2 in a game where they played much of the second half with nine players. The second fixture was a closer battle, with the teams sharing the points after a one all draw at Lisbellaw.

“I don’t think there will be a lot between the sides,” said Kyle.

“Mountjoy are a decent footballing side and they have a few very good players, so I know it will be a difficult game for us, but if we can play anywhere near our potential then we should be okay and I would fancy us. It about how we handle the occasion and how we play on the day.”