After the euphoria of last week’s great win over promotion chasing PSNI, Lurgan Celtic came back down to earth with an almighty thump when they went down 2-0 to Tobermore Utd at Knockramer on Saturday.
The match began with the Hoops on the attack Niall Lavery was just wide with a decent chance and he also sent in a cross which eluded everyone. Although looking on top there was a sluggishness about Celtic’s play which suggested that the exertions of Tuesday nights game had caught up with them and there was a lack of fizz in their overall play.
Dale Malone had a shot which went about 2 yards wide and despite being on top the Hoops couldn’t make the breakthrough and another chance went a begging as a free header was mis directed .
Prior to the break after making a routine clearance from a back pass goalkeeper Fox went down in agony with no other player near him and needed prolonged treatment before continuing but he wasn’t moving freely and this had an impact right on the half time whistle when Tobermore were awarded a free kick out on the right and as the deep cross was played in Fox, who normally would have come out and taken the ball with ease, stayed, on his line and a free header was planted into the net giving the visitors the lead.
At the start of the second half Fitzpatrick who normally plays up front replaced goalkeeper Fox who was unable to continue.
Caolan Lavery also replaced Conor Hagan and with the elements in their favour a reaction was expected from the home side, but Tobermore boosted by the goal came more into the game and as they broke clear in the penalty area John Cochrane made a brilliant tackle to avert the danger.
A feature of the game was the bumpy hard pitch which made any attempts at precise passing very difficult for both teams and quite a few times the ball bobbled about on the surface to the frustration of the players and spectators alike. Midway through the second half Neil Lavery swung a great pass from on side of left side over to the far right for Declan McVeigh to run unto and put over a well delivered cross for Malone who got a firm header on target but it was too close to the keeper and he saved it without too much trouble.
Toland then replaced Jason Rogers as Celtic during this period of ascendancy did have the ball in the net but it was rightly ruled off side and they were unlucky after a corner was partially cleared when Caolan Campbell hit the ball from outside the box and it rebounded off a defender an away to safety.
Tobermore then moved upfield and gained a free kick which was hit straight at Fizpatrick who up to that point didn’t have a lot to do but as he was gathering the ball it bounced off his chest and Glen Clarke accepted the loose ball to score and put the visitors 2-0 ahead in the 83rd. minute. After this setback there was little of note as the game fizzled out and this win put Tobermore a point above the Hoops and out of danger in the league placings to secure their place for next season.
Celtic did have chances but this was a lethargic display in comparison to last Tuesday. This week Celtic play the penultimate game of the season at Killymoon Rangers and the Cookstown side will be up for it as they are locked in a relegation battle with Sport and Leisure and an improved display is required to gain three points.
against opponents fighting for their future in Championship 2.