Westbank win SML Premier title in Play-off

A jubilant Westbank United celebrate winning the SML Premier League at the Brandywell. (1805PG105)
A jubilant Westbank United celebrate winning the SML Premier League at the Brandywell. (1805PG105)

Phoenix Swifts 1

Westbank United 3

This game concluded what has been an enthralling title race and while Phoenix recorded a comprehensive win when the two sides last met two weeks ago, it was Westbank who came out on top on this occasion.

The match started at a frantic pace and in the opening five minutes Paul Moore was released by Stevie Johnston and the Phoenix striker had the goal at his mercy but Westbank keeper, Ryan McCloskey stood tall and saved to his left.

Westbank’s Ryan McCready was presented with a great when his first time volley from inside the penalty area struck the underside of the crossbar and bounced away to safety.

Moore then had a promising chance for Phoenix but he shot wide when well placed. Phoenix once again failed to punish their opponents when a poor defensive clearance fell to Sean Martin and he hit a rasping shot but McCloskey managed to produce a save.

Westbank countered almost immediately and when in behind the Phoenix defence, Johnny Hume sent a thunderous shot past McCrudden to break the deadlock.

Just before the break Moore again went close for Phoenix but it just wasn’t going to be the big striker’s night.

The tempo of the game slowed in the second half but Phoenix had a legitimate claim for a penalty, however, referee Mark McGarrigle was well placed and quickly dismissed the claim.

Westbank had a great chance to double their lead when McCready was sent clean through on goal but he took his shot early and McCrudden made a comfortable save.

Phoenix managed to get back on level terms on 70 minutes when, after some pressure that saw them force a series of corner kicks, the ball was half cleared by the Westbank defence but was returned to the back post where Stevie Johnston took a toch before sending the ball past McCloskey.

Five minutes later Westbank restored their lead when Aaron Nash was sent clean through and he waited for McCrudden to commit before lobbing the ball over the keeper and into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Phoenix threw everything at Westbank in an attempt to get back into the game but they were caught on the break and Robbie Hume ran clear and was brought down inside the penalty area and the referee pointed straight to the spot.

Nash stepped up and hit the penalty and although McCrudden got his hand to the ball he couldn’t keep it out of the net and Westbank began the celebrations for their first ever Premiership title win.