Celtic to play cup tie without a goalkeeper

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Lurgan Celtic go into the biggest game in the club’s history without a goalkeeper.

Number one Conor McCorry was sent off last week in the league game against Annagh United, but the club had hoped to play Larne on Thursday night so they could field a goalkeeper against Linfield at Windsor Park.

However, after having initially been told the game with Larne could go ahead, they were contacted later with news the game could not now take place.

“It has thrown our cup plans into chaos,” said a fuming manager Colin Malone. “Our other keeper Jamie McAtavey has a fractured wrist so we are looking at having to go with an outfield player in nets against a team like Linfield on their home ground.

“I don’t understand how NIFL can tell us one day the Larne game can be played and then the next minute it is off. The implication was that we would field a weakened team against Larne. But I don’t have a big squad and would have to put out a decent side as we are also looking for league points. So, in terms of sporting integrity the game cannot be played. What about sporting integrity on Saturday - taking on Linfield without a goalkeeper?”

The Mail understands striker Dale Malone will play in goal.

As we went to press the club issued this statement:

“We made contact with Larne FC to bring forward a game from Tuesday April 5 into the current week to let the automatic suspension be lifted and Larne sportingly agreed but stated they could only play on Thursday March 31.

“This proposal was put forward to NIFL and the game was given the go-ahead after the two clubs emailed acceptance of this, but not long after this our secretary was telephoned and told that permission was withdrawn - the reason being that we would field a “weakened team” giving unfair advantage to Larne over teams near them in the league.

“On being told this a further conversation with Larne FC reached agreement to play on Wednesday, March 30 but this was ruled out for the same reason to protect the integrity of the league but at no time did Lurgan Celtic mention fielding a “weakened side” don’t forget we are sitting third in the table with games in hand so we are chasing points as well.

“Our manager in a telephone conversation with League Chairman Colin Russell was told games are not allowed to be brought forward if they are scheduled after the 31st March but we are in receipt of an email that states if Larne FC were to progress in the Intermediate Cup the game which had been re-scheduled to April 5 from April 2 would in fact be brought forward to March 22, thus, in our opinion, defeating the argument a game can’t be brought forward if it is scheduled after March 31.

“Lurgan Celtic take issue of the supposition that we would field a “weakened team” against Larne, how can this allegation be made before the side has even taken the field? That is like convicting someone of an offence because you think they might commit one.

“In the recent past we had a scheduled league game on February 2, 2013 and played Larne in an Irish Cup replay the following Monday, February 4 and Larne also had a scheduled league game on February 2, no-one intervened to prevent that happening .”

Updates at www.lurganmail.co.uk