Kerry FC made the long journey north on Friday last to take on Finn Harps in the latest game week of the SSE Airtricity First Division. An 828 km round trip for Billy Dennehy’s squad who, no matter the result, would have to recover quickly as the visit of Waterford FC on the Bank Holiday Monday loomed large.
But it was the visitors who started on the front foot in the summer sunshine, an early corner for the boys in white won by Leo Gaxha. But the first real chance of the game fell to Harps, as a O’Donnell goal bound shot was cleared by Rob Vasiu.
Some 7 minutes later the same again. This time Da Silva’s goal bound effort cleared away Kevin Williams to deny the hosts an early lead. Kerry countered but Ryan Kelliher’s ball across the box was well cut out by Baba.
Periods of pressure throughout the remainder of first half saw Kevin Williams and Nathan Gleeson go into the referee’s notebook on yellows. 4 corners in the space of 7 minutes for the hosts were all well defended by the Kerry FC back line.
The last chance of the half fell to Samuel Aladesanusi but his header from a Gaxha corner couldn’t find the net. A scoreless opening 45 where both sides had their chances to open the scoring.
It took the hosts just 3 minutes to have the first big chance of the second half. O’Donnells shot from the edge of the box was flashed just wide of Aaron O Sullivan’s far post. A big let off early on for the visitors. Rob Vasiu was everywhere at the back and got infront of some 3 shots on target in the second period, one of which was touched onto the post by him. O’Sullivan did make a big save on the hour mark from a Ryan Flood shot. Aaron was at full stretch to keep the ball out of his net.
With the game in the melting pot and the need for fresh legs, Graham O Reilly made his introduction after 64 minutes, with Sean McGrath leaving the field after another impressive performance. And it was to signal a slight turning point in the game as Kerry began to get on top. Ryan Kelliher had a great chance in a 1 v 1 situation but the last man back did well to block his goal bound shot.
But in the closing quarter of an hour, the hosts did everything to try and go in front but no major chance was created that’s to some fantastic defending by Cian Barrett, Rob Vasiu, Kevin Williams and Samuel Aladesanusi. 3 minutes into the 4 added, Kerry had possibly the closest chance of the game. Ryan Kelliher tried one from the edge of the box which was deflected but landed to the Killarney man’s feet again, his second effort took a fully stretched save by the Harps keeper to avoid a late upset in front of the home support.
So a well-earned point on the road for Kerry FC, in a game which marked a first ever clean sheet for the league newcomers. Brilliant displays at the back, with Matt Keane also impressing on his return to the starting 11.