UCD moved into the semi final of the Under 20 League with a 3-1 win over Salthill Devon.
UCD AFC moved into the semi finals of the Under 20 League following a 3-1 win over Salthill Devon. It was a clash of last year's finalists in Belfield as UCD came from a goal down to win an extremely competitive game.
UCD started the better of the sides settling into an attacking rhythm quickly but were caught on the break as Salthill took a surprise lead. Another foray into the Salthill Devon half was dealt with by the strong Devon defence and the clearance soared down field and over the UCD defence. UCD Keeper, John Kelly, rushed out to close the striker down but his deft lob left UCD's number one with no chance.
UCD continued to stick to their principles of slick passes creating a spectacle of attacking football. It was inevitable that the Students would be back on level terms quickly but it was not to be. Salthill Devon held strong and soaked up attack after attack as UCD poured forward. Russell and Doyle were causing plenty of scares down the wings but the bounce of the ball went against UCD until the last 5 minutes of the first half.
Danny Fallon picked up the ball in midfield before playing a perfectly weighted ball to the feet of Stephen Doyle. Doyle's marker was left for dead as the Belfield winger skipped past him before delivering a pin point ball into the box. Samir Belhout did not have to be asked twice and following a strong connection with his forehead the ball smashed into the back of the net.
Belhout's first goal owed a lot to diligent work down the right hand side by Stephen Doyle and his own ability to connect perfectly with an accurate cross. His second was equally as effective if not as pleasing on the eye. Tom O'Halloran broke from midfield before feeding the ball to Sean Russell. Russell fired the ball across the Salthill box and there was Belhout to bundle the ball over the line, beauty and the beast are equally rewarded in football and the Students lead 2-1 after 50 minutes.
UCD's third goal was an unstoppable header from centre half Andy Boyle. Sean Russell's ball into the box invited Boyle to attack it and attack it he did, at the expense of his stationary marker, putting UCD two goals in front.
The expected backlash arrived from Salthill Devon shortly afterwards as the Westerners attempted to claw their way back into the game. UCD's defence stood firm in the face of every Devon attack even creating a platform from which UCD could have scored further goals on the break.
As it was UCD finished the game comfortably and eventually eased into their second consecutive semi final.
UCD AFC: Kelly, Matthews, Boyle, Scallan, O'Connor, Doyle (Fitzgibbon), Fallon, Ledwith, Russell, Belhout (Morrison), O'Halloran