Hamilton nets late winner to keep promotion dream alive

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DOLLINGSTOWN 3 NEWINGTON 2

TWO goals from striker Richard Thompson and a late winner from Andy Hamilton gave Dollingstown a dramatic 3-2 win in their first leg Championship 2 play-off against Newington on Tuesday night.

Andy Hamilton celebrates with his team mates after scoring Dollingstown's late winner. INLM21-712.

Andy Hamilton celebrates with his team mates after scoring Dollingstown's late winner. INLM21-712.

A crowd of around 500 enjoyed an action filled contest as the local side produced a superb performance against the fancied Belfast outfit who last season knocked Glentoran out of the Irish Cup.

Dollingstown were given a dream start on six minutes when a long ball forward caused problems for the visiting goalkeeper Dean Smyth, he was beaten by the bounce and Richard Thompson was quick to pounce to snap up the lose ball and fire into the empty net.

It should have been 2-0 on 19 minutes when Brian Quilty played in Thompson but his shot flew inches wide of the post. Then another chance arrived soon after when a floated free kick from Andy Hamilton was met by Neil Clydesdale but his effort flew over the bar.

It was all Dollingstown at this stage with Clydesdale threading a great ball through to Thompson who did well to lob the keeper but the ball was just wide. The direct approach from the home team continued to reap rewards as Quilty created space for a shot which the keeper touched onto the post and Chris Mackle tried to snap up the loose ball but hit the post in the process.

It was no surprise when Dollingstown increased their lead on 30 minutes with a lovely move involving Clydesdale and Hamilton finished off brilliantly by Thompson who effort flew into the top corner of the net.

Right on the break Quilty was denied when his shot beat the keeper but was cleared off the line.

Newington battled back strongly in the second half pulling a goal back within five minutes of the restart. A deep cross fell to the unmarked Pierce and he made no mistake with a downward header. This gave the away team a massive lift and they began to get into the game pressing the home team back and eventually they drew level when sub Michael Smyth was allowed to surge into the box and fire past an exposed Kris Fletcher.

At this stage Newington sensed victory but Dollingstown did not give up and one last effort saw them grab a late winner. A corner from Clydesdale into a packed box was dropped by the keeper and Hamilton latched onto the loose ball to drill home much tot he delight of the home fans.

Will it be enough to seal promotion? That question will be answered on Friday night in the second leg, but Gary Duke’s side deserve a huge amount of praise for what they have achieved so far.

“We should already be in the Championship,” said boss Gary Duke after the game. “We had five great chances in the first half and should have been out of sight.

“We let them back in it by two mistakes but did well to come back and get that late winner. It will be a tough game down there on Friday night on the artificial pitch. They are used to it so it is vital we do not concede early to allow us to settle and get used to it.”