Last gasp Haire seals vital victory

Lurgan Celtic's Aaron Haire shields the ball from Annagh player Ritchie Allen. INLM07-616AM
Lurgan Celtic's Aaron Haire shields the ball from Annagh player Ritchie Allen. INLM07-616AM

Lurgan Celtic travelled to Portadown on Saturday to take on Annagh United, their first league game since November 28 , hoping to secure valuable points.

Celtic started the game well causing Annagh problems with some slick passing and hard work but without really testing former goalkeeper Ciaran Fox in the Annagh net.

On 20 minutes Celtic where denied a penalty when a defender handled the ball a yard inside the box only for the referee to award a free kick to the bewilderment of the large travelling support. Celtic’s dominance was rewarded on the half hour mark when a corner from Dale Malone was met on the half volley at the back post by Ray Fitzpatrick who blasted the ball through a crowded penalty box and into the net.

Annagh almost equalised shortly after when McCorderick weaved his way into the box only for Shane McCabe to make a last ditch tackle to deny the Annagh frontman.

On the stroke of half time another controversial decision by the officials came when Malone truck a ball from 15 yards through a crowded penalty area and into the net only for the linesman to call an offside. A decision that left the crowd scratching their heads in disbelief.

Celtic started the second half like the first and were 2-0 up within two minutes of the restart when Josh Barton went on a mazy run beating three defenders before squaring to Aaron Haire to tap. The next 20 minutes saw Celtic create numerous chances but they failed to convert with Fox saving from Fitzpatrick and Barton and gradually Annagh clawed their way back into the game pulling a goal back on 70 minutes through substitute Craig. This seemed to spur Annagh on who went in seek of an equaliser.

Celtic seemed to have completed the job with the home side not testing McCorry in the Celtic net right up until the 92nd minute when a goalmouth scramble from a corner was poked into the net by McElroy, an unlikely point seemed to have been secured by the home side.

Annagh players had just finished celebrating when Celtic won a corner and Malone floated it in for Haire to meet with a header to put Celtic back in front with 94 minutes on the clock.

This was a massive relief for Celtic who seconds earlier were set to go home disappointed.

McLean Bookmaker man of the match was two goal hero Aaron Haire.

Next up is another vital Championship fixture when Loughgall visit Knockramer Park on Saturday, kick-off 3pm.