PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL FLYNN.
Talbot lost their spot at the top of the table after a frustrating afternoon at New Tinto park which ended all square.
The first half was a bit of a non-event with Talbot struggling to cope against a stiff breeze and Benburb constantly going long and overhitting it.
The first of very chances in the 1st half came Talbot’s way in the 12th minute. A shy from the right wasn’t cleared by the home defence and came to Graham Wilson 16 yards out but he fired wide of the left hand post.
Benburb’s first attack came in the 23rd minute when Black sent a good square pass out to Lovering on the left wing and his cross into the near post was well cleared by Stafford.
In the 33rd minute Docherty picked up a caution for petulantly kicking the ball away after conceding a free kick for a foul on Stafford.
The Bot had a half chance in the 40th minute when Wardope played a good ball in behind the Bens defence for Boylan to race onto. He burst down the left side of the penalty area but the ball wouldn’t sit down for him and he drilled a left foot shot across goal and wide of the far post.
In the final minute of the half McPherson was caught late in an aerial challenge by Lovering but the ref took no further action and the sides went in goal less at the break.
The 2nd half got off to a much livelier start than the insipid first and both sides threatened within a minute of the restart. The ball broke to Duncanson on the right of Talbot’s penalty area and he played a dangerous ball across goal towards McDonald but he lost his footing and the chance was lost. Play then immediately switched to the other end where Wardrope’s ball up the right found Boylan racing down the wing and he whipped a great ball into the centre but there were no takers.
Black had his name taken in the 48th minute for a late challenge on McCracken as he cleared the ball.
A minute later he ought to have given Bens the lead. McDonald knocked the ball into his path but with time and space he snatched at it and blazed a shot off target.
With 54 mins gone Talbot made their 1st change with Shankland coming on for Mason.
One minute later Talbot took the lead. Shankland laid the ball off to Graham Wilson and his pass up the left wing found BRYAN BOYLAN who swung a cross over to the back post that deceived the keeper and landed in the net.
Benburb now made a change with McDonald making way for Meechan.
Talbot had a let off in the 59th minute. A shy from the left was only partially cleared and fell to Taylor whose shot was deflected just past the left hand post.
In the 61st minute Talbot might have wrapped it up. Shankland’s short pass found Graham Wilson and he rolled it into the path of Aiden Wilson whose fierce drive was saved at his near post by McCready. The ball came across the face of goal to Samson who saw his effort cleared off the line.
A minute later Samson had his name taken for what looked like a fairly innocuous challenge.
It was all level after 63 minutes as the Bens scored a controversial equaliser. McCracken hit a poor clearance that was intercepted and played out to BLACK on the right. He got past McPherson and lobbed it home only for the assistant to raise his flag and call the ref over to advise it had hit his hand in the build-up. It looked like the goal was going to be chalked off but the referee over-ruled his assistant and the goal stood.
Talbot now made a defensive re-shuffle with McCracken who appeared to be suffering a knock making way for Crawford who went to right-back with Stafford going into the centre.
Benburb’s tails were up and they should have taken the lead in the 66th minute. A long shy from the left was head flicked on by Meechan toward the back post where it hit off Black and went just wide of the post.
In the 73rd minute Talbot regained the lead. Crawford did well on the right; surging forward before firing a cross into the near post. His cross took a slight deflection and Samson pounced on it only for McCready to make a good stop at his left post. The ball came out to KIERAN HEALY on the 18 yard line and he drilled a low left foot shot inside the left post.
Tucker now made a further change with Armstrong coming on for Boylan and Benburb were forced into a defensive change with Bow limping off to be replaced by McTaggart.
Talbot’s next attack saw Crawford hare up the right and win a corner when his cross was blocked. Wardrope played the corner into the near post where Samson tried to turn it home but failed to make contact.
The home side were reduced to 10 men with 10 minutes remaining when Docherty picked up a 2nd yellow card for a late challenge on Shankland.
Two minutes later the referee again infuriated the travelling support and Talbot bench when he turned down what appeared a stonewall penalty. Crawford raced up the right and swung a ball into the near post where the Bens defender controlled it with his arm before clearing but the referee waved away Talbot’s appeals.
Two minutes later Talbot conceded a soft 2nd goal and it was all level again. Benburb had looked threatening from throw ins and it was a shy from the left that led to the equaliser. It was hurled into the near post where Meechan head flicked it on across goal where it came off a Bot defender and crept into the far corner to make it 2-2.
As the game moved into injury time Benburb came close to grabbing all 3 points. They won a free kick out on the left that was crossed into the centre where Meechan met it but his header came back off the left post.
Talbot threw men forward in added time and had plenty of pressure but all they had to show for it was a late chance when Wardope was caught outside the box. The ball broke to Healy and the ref gave the advantage but his shot flew over the bar and the game ended 2-2.
Next up for Talbot it’s back to Beechwood for a midweek league encounter with Rossvale where the Bot will look to get back to winning ways.
Benburb – McCready, O’Hear, Leadbetter, Bow, Docherty, Taylor, Duncanson, Livingston, McDonald, Black, Lovering
Subs – McCrone, Langan, Brennan, McTaggart, Miller, Meechan
Auchinleck Talbot – Leishman, Stafford, Aiden Wilson, McPherson, McCracken, Healy, Wardrope, Graham Wilson, Boylan, Mason, Samson
Subs – Shankland, Glasgow, Armstrong, Hyslop, Crawford, Hewitt