Lurgan Celtic produced their best performance and result of the season when they stunned promotion hopefuls PSNI at Knockramer Park on Tuesday night.
The Hoops took the game to the visitors from the start and the sheer pace Celtic showed stunned the PSNI who would have gone top of the league with a win, but they were never allowed to settle by a determined home side captained by the highly impressive Conor Hagan who dominated midfield. This was a great team performance in which every player played his part.
Celtic deservedly took the lead with a well hit goal by Niall Lavery on 32 minutes.They started the second half on the back foot as the visitors tried to retrieve the game but in the 65th minute a tremendous run by Dale Malone resulted in Brennan taking him down and conceding a penalty.
The defender was given a second yellow resulting in being sent off and Hagan calmly slotted the spot kick home. Later in the game Malone set off on a run from inside his own half and crashed a brilliant drive against the upright and was denied the goal his display deserved. The Hoops finished the game well in control to gain the necessary points consolidating the teams position in Championship 2 with this outstanding display.
On Saturday Celtic lost a tight encounter with Armagh City 1-0.
Celtic had an early chance with a free but Malone fired over. McVeigh after a good interception on the right sent a dangerous cross into the area but it eluded everyone and went wide. Kelly playing in midfield was a danger for the visitors as he has the knack of ghosting into the area but the home defenders were alert to this although they had to be on their toes and when Armagh gained a free Ciaran Fox in the Hoops goal took the ball confidently to quell any danger.
The second half wasn’t long started when Caolan Campbell after a good interception broke upfield and after beating a player hit the ball too far in front and was booked after he fouled a City player in a bid to retrieve the situation. The game opened up halfway through the half but neither side was giving anything away with both keepers not having a shot on target to deal with. On 66 minutes Ciaran Rooney replaced Forker who had run himself into the ground in the thankless task of playing alone upfront with Malone moving further upfield and as the play became slightly more open Celtic forced the play more and Armagh started to look a bit ragged when they tried to go forward.
Moving into the last quarter the game looked destined to end scoreless when a piece of misfortune turned the match on its head. City broke upfield after a Hoops stray pass and a forward cut in from the left to fire a shot across the Celtic goal but as the ball looked like going out it hit Coleman on the leg and went back in towards the goal and Donnelly gleefully snapped up the gift to score from a couple of feet to put Armagh in the driving seat on 77 minutes. Stung by this the home side went all out for an equalising goal but in the 85th minutes Fitzpatrick was booked for kicking the ball away by referee Mervyn Smith and when the Hoops captain made a remark about the linesman getting several big calls wrong he immediately produced a red card and sent Fitzpatrick off to the astonishment of both sets of supporters. Down to ten men Celtic were unable to make the breakthrough although they had a last minute chance when they were awarded a corner and keeper Fox went up for it but was adjudged to have fouled a defender although no contact appeared to be made. Time was then called on a valiant effort by the Hoops against a well drilled Armagh side but the home side didn’t deserve to lose this game as a draw would have been a fair result.
On Saturday Celtic are at home to Tobermore United at 3.00pm and on Easter Tuesday play Sport and Leisure Swifts at 7.00pm.