Bailey bags a hat trick as Bay stay in the hunt for promotion

Bay FC 3–1 Lourdes Celtic | NEFL Division Three

Bay FC’s Damien Bailey. Picture: Ciaran Culligan

Three was the magic number on Wednesday night as Damien Bailey helped himself to a hat trick in Bay FC’s third NEFL Division Three win on the bounce against Lourdes Celtic in Muirhevnamor.

This was Bay’s penultimate game of the league campaign and they needed the three points to keep their slim hopes of promotion alive.

Lourdes, who showed plenty of running but lacked an end product throughout, had an opportunity to take the lead early on but Bay goalkeeper Kevin Mullen stood tall to palm away a point blank shot.

Ciaran Boland went close after that for the home side, forcing the Lourdes netminder into a couple of fine saves with free kicks.

However, it was perennial striker Bailey who opened the scoring, finishing calmly after a defence splitting pass from midfielder Sandro Stefanovski.

The Drogheda side maintained possession well for the last 10 minutes of the half but failed to make it count where it mattered and Bay went into the break one-nil ahead.

The next goal was going to be hugely important in determining which way the game would go and it fell the home side’s way as Bailey popped up to grab his second with a sweet half volley into the bottom corner.

The hat trick almost arrived shortly after when Bailey’s audacious chip left the Lourdes goalkeeper sprawling but the goal was ruled out for offside.

‘Smiley’ wouldn’t be denied, though, and a booming kick from Mullen on the hour mark forced the Celtic ‘keeper to come sprinting from his goals to clear only to see his clearance strike Bailey and leave the Bay man with a simple tap.

Mario Kolak almost marked his return from long term injury by getting on the scoresheet only to see his fantastic strike crash off the crossbar with the keeper beaten all ends up.

And Alfonso Crespo should have made it four-nil but he chose to square the ball to Stephen McGuinness whose shot was cleared off the line.

Lourdes grabbed a late consolation but it mattered little in the end as Bay saw it out to maintain their place in second place although they need results elsewhere to go their way if they are to have any hope of promotion to the second tier.

The NEFL Division Three table, as of March 31st 2017

Next up for Damien Bellew’s men is an O’Neill Shield semi-final against Virginia Celtic in Muirhevnamor on Wednesday, April 5th at 8pm. The Cavan side eliminated Bay at the same stage of the competition last season, running out 2–0 winners only to be beaten by fellow Dundalk side, Rangers FC in the final.

BAY FC: Kevin Mullen, Robbie Rafferty, Steven McGuinness, Paddy McShane, Ciaran Boland (Dillon Curran 60), Kevin Scollon, Aaron Kelly, Peter Sweeney, Sandro Stefanovski (Mario Kolak HT), Damien Bailey, Alfonso Crespo.

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