By Aron Hegarty
LSL Sunday Division 3
Esker Celtic 3 V Wayside Celtic 2
Aaron Byrne scored a second half brace as Esker Celtic staged a remarkable turnaround to win an enthralling Sunday LSL Division 3 clash with Wayside Celtic at the weekend.
Willsbrook Park was the stage for the ‘Battle of the Celts’, who met a month ago with a 2-0 victory going by the Wayside.
The second installment looked to be following suit as goals at the start and end of the first half put the visitors 2-1 up.
But winger Byrne tore up the script as he struck minutes after the restart to level matters and then slotted home his second and Esker’s third in the 93rd minute.
The late drama was a fitting way to settle what had been a gripping, end-to-end arm wrestle of a match as both sides went direct from defence to attack throughout.
This pattern of play was established in the opening minute when Wayside went in front through captain Ciaran Mooney, who took advantage of some indecision in the home defence to score.
Esker hit back in the 12th minute to equalise when Liam Treacy fired the ball into the roof of the net past Rameel Rizwan.
The hosts began to get more of a foothold in midfield as the half wore on and carved out some decent chances.
Most notable was striker Shane O’Neill whose lob sailed just past the post and shot straight at the keeper following an advancing run.
It was the visitors, however, who took advantage of a mix-up in the home defence to retake the lead with Ramish Rizwan slotting into an empty net on the stroke of halftime.
Just three minutes into the second period, Esker were again level when the visiting defence failed to deal with a bounce from a high cross and Byrne was on hand to fire into the corner.
Wayside upped the tempo following the concession and responded with several threatening attacks past the hour mark.
Substitute Joe O’Connor and Oisin McLaughlin both missed half-chances then Rizwan was denied in a one-on-one with Esker keeper Jason Gibbons.
The resulting corner was headed off the line and, moments later, replacement Luke Wevill pulled his shot wide at the other end after being sent through from a long ball forward.
The away side pressed in the final quarter with Rizwan again being thwarted by Gibbons and Shane Kerins coming to the hosts’ rescue in clearing off the line.
As both teams began to tire and the contest looked to be heading for a draw, there was to be one final twist in the tale.
Byrne broke though on goal with seconds remaining and made no mistake with a neat finish to apply the ‘coup de grace’.