Can Peel deny Geordies again?

By by Andy Dalrymple andy.dalrymple@iomtoday.co.im Twitter: @manxfootyblog in Football

There’s a sense of De Ja Vu about Easter Monday afternoon’s Friends Provident International FA Cup final.

In what is a repeat of last year’s finale, St George’s go head-to-head with holders Peel at the Bowl.

Once again Steve Falconer’s westerners will be aiming to throw a stick in Geordies’ spokes as the Glencrutchery Road outfit hunt down an unprecedented third Grand Slam.

Falconer’s men caused something of an upset last season when they triumphed 3-2 after extra time over their rivals at Castletown.

The western side that will contest this weekend’s final will be missing several of the key figures that helped shape the 2016 win at the Stadium.

Goalkeeper Max Thomas, Lee Gale and Josh Kelly have not featured all season, while striker Ashley Webster, who scored twice in last year’s victory, emigrated to Australia on Monday.

The form of Golden Boot winner Webster has been a rare highlight in a tough season for the westerners that has seen them forced to play their home games at Colby because of pitch problems at Douglas Road.

His goalscoring threat will be missed and Ryan Holdaway and youngster Billy Kennuagh will be among those charged with filling the void.

It’s Peel’s defence that will come under most scrutiny at the weekend though as they aim to shut out a Geordies side that averaged more than five goals a league game.

Adam Cregeen and Dominic McGreevy and co will relish the task and will take heart from the fact that St George’s semi-final opponents Douglas Athletic kept out their opponents for nearly an hour in the pair’s semi-final.

Geordies had their own struggles at the start of the season when a number of the key players were sidelined with injuries.

Despite that Chris Bass Sr’s men have managed to string together a tremendous run that has seen them win 23 of their 24 league games on their way to the title.

Chris Bass Jr has been in sparkling form throughout the campaign, while striker Ciaran McNulty has been back to his best in front of goal in recent weeks.

With Hospital Cup preliminary round opponents Michael United pulling out of the competition, Geordies have had the rare luxury of a couple of weeks off.

The fact the two league meetings between the pair have resulted in 3-0 and 1-0 wins for Geordies and, with the Railway Cup also safely encased in the bulging Glencrutchery Road trophy cabinet, it’s hard to look past Bass Sr’s men picking up another piece of silverware at the weekend.

l Listen to Peel midfielder Matty Woods’s comments ahead of the FA Cup final in this week’s Manx Footy Podcast. It will be available to stream and download at audioboom.com/channel/manxfootball from Thursday teatime.

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