Stephen Kenny and Shane Tracy produced stunning second-half goals before Chiedozie Ogbene put the cherry on top as Limerick recovered to beat English League One side Charlton Athletic 3-2 in an entertaining friendly at the Markets Field on Tuesday night.
Charlton broke the deadlock before the midway point of the first half as Joe Aribo rose to meet Cameron Stewart’s corner, the ball creeping over the line, just moments after Aribo had been denied by a fantastic stop from the in-form Freddy Hall.
That advantage was doubled on the half-hour when Stewart again played a key role, his free-kick delivery bravely met by their captain Jason Pearce and as the ball dropped towards goal Josh Magennis was perfectly placed to head in from two-yards out.
Hall was in inspired form, though, and that helped Limerick back into the game as they netted twice in the first 11 minutes of the second half.
Firstly, Kenny hit what appeared to be a cross from the right but it looped all the way into the far top corner, and then Tracy executed a trademark free-kick. Hall was keeping Limerick on level terms, and they would go on to win the game late on as Ogbene’s blistering pace gave him time and space which he took full advantage of.
For the match, Limerick manager Neil McDonald included Shane Costelloe from the start along with Joe Crowe once again, while there was a first appearance for New Zealand international winger Henry Cameron.
After a quiet opening, Charlton were the first to threaten on 11 minutes when Stewart slipped a through-ball into the feet of former Celtic man Tony Watt in the box but his low cross was cleared. The delivery back into the box was headed over by Magennis.
Before the quarter-hour, Limerick’s two newest signings, Cameron and Crowe, almost combined from a corner but the latter could not connect properly at the back post. Then Chris Mulhall saw a shot saved after Paul O’Conor had burst through midfield.
Charlton hit the front on 20 minutes when – after Hall had denied him with a brilliant save from the first corner – the second one by Stewart was met by the head of Aribo with the ball crossing the line despite the best efforts of the defence.
It was 2-0 on 29 minutes when Stewart was again the provider, his cross from wide on the left met by the visiting captain Pearce ahead of Hall and Magennis was on hand to head in on the line.
At the other end, Cameron teed up Ian Turner on the edge of the box but his strike was gathered low down by Phillips. Shortly after, Cameron found John O’Flynn in the area but from a difficult angle the legendary striker saw his effort collected by the ‘keeper.
Limerick made four changes at the break as Tony Whitehead, Killian Brouder, Lee-J Lynch and Kenny were all introduced. The Blues started the second half on the front foot but it was from their attack that Charlton broke at pace and almost made it 3-0, but Hall saved well from Magennis’ shot after Watt played it back to him.
The deficit was reduced moments later when Kenny’s cross from the right looped into the far top corner. A wonderful save from Hall then denied Magennis, who had looked in an offside position. And it was 2-2 on 56 minutes when Tracy stood up and curled a magnificent free-kick into the top corner off the crossbar.
Charlton almost restored their lead two minutes after that as substitutes Billy Clarke and Cristian Ceballos combined, Clarke’s pull-back from the by-line met on the turn by Ceballos but his low strike whistled past the post. Hall then produced more heroics to deny Karlan Ahearne-Grant.
More subs were introduced on the hour – six from Charlton and four from Limerick, including a trialist. On 73 minutes, the busy Hall was called into action again to touch Ceballos’ shot around the post.
But the winner arrived on 79 minutes as the pace of Ogbene took him away from the defence down the right and he broke into the box, his low strike squirming under the hand of sub ‘keeper Ashley Maynard-Brewer, which proved the decisive moment.
Limerick: Freddy Hall, Shane Costelloe, Joe Crowe, Dave O’Connor, Shane Tracy, Ian Turner, Paul O’Conor, Shane Duggan ©, Henry Cameron, John O’Flynn, Chris Mulhall. Goals: S Kenny (48), S Tracy (56), C Ogbene (79). Booked: None. Bench: Brendan Clarke (GK), Dean Clarke, Tony Whitehead, Killian Brouder, Stephen Kenny, Bastien Héry, Lee-J Lynch, Trialist, Garbhán Coughlan, Chiedozie Ogbene, Rodrigo Tosi, Seán McSweeney.
Charlton Athletic: Dillon Phillips, Regan Charles-Cook, Erzi Konsa, Jason Pearce ©, Aaron Barnes, Cameron Stewart, Joe Aribo, Andrew Crofts, Karlan Ahearne-Grant, Tony Watt, Josh Magennis. Goals: J Aribo (20), J Magennis (29). Bench: Ashley Maynard-Brewer (GK), Billy Clarke, Anfernee Dijksteel, Patrick Bauer, Naby Sarr, Cristian Ceballos, Johnnie Jackson, Mark Marshall, Jorge Teixeira.
Referee: Graham Kelly (Cork).
Report Date: Tuesday 11 July 2017