LURGAN Celtic progressed to the next round of the Intermediate Cup after defeating Bangor Amateurs 2-0 in a game they largely dominated but didn’t score the goals until late on in what was a rather flat performance not helped by the blustery conditions.
The Hoops started quickest and within the first few minutes Mackin had a good header well saved by the Bangor keeper and it was soon obvious the visitors had set themselves up to hit Celtic on the break with the aid of the wind but Celtic were gaining plenty of the ball. It was frustrating to see so many offsides being blown in the first half with some of them very contentious, but as there are no official linesmen at this stage of the competition the referee’s job is made more difficult without them.
The Hoops then forced several corners and when one was cleared McPartland had a good effort cleared off the line with the keeper beaten. Haire then received the ball out on the left and cut inside beating two defenders but his strong shot was well saved by the Amateurs keeper who looked very competent when dealing with anything that came his way and despite having the bulk of the play Celtic couldn’t create many goalscoring chances. The first half finished scoreless and the atmosphere at this stage very dull with a meagre crowd in attendance.
The Hoops resumed for the second half with McVeigh and McAnallen restored to the defence with McCabe and Drainey making way but it was very frustrating to see the number of offsides that were whistled especially one were the Celtic player was easily five yards onside. McVeigh started overlapping to good effect down the right hand side and in one run he fed McKavanagh who shot just over and at this stage it looked only a matter of time before the breakthrough came. Another good piece of build up play down the left ended in a corner which saw a shot hit a defender as it looked goalbound and was cleared and then came the moment when everyone thought Celtic had taken the lead as Mackin latched unto a loose ball, ran in on goal and rounded the keeper but somehow contrived top hit the side netting to the dismay of the home support.
Shortly after this the same player was unlucky when he got up well for a header and it went narrowly over the bar. Midway through the half Lavery came on for McKavanagh in a bid to unlock the Bangor defence. McVeigh who was opening up the defence with strong direct running forced a corner, but again it was repelled and the visitors, who started to fancy their chances of an upset, swiftly moved upfield and had a goalbound shot well saved by Ciaran Fox in the Hoops goal. Fox showed great concentration despite being a virtual spectator for the bulk of the game and he then punched the resulting corner well away from the danger area to keep his goal intact.
The breakthrough came on 80 minutes when Seeley played an exquisite pass over the defence for McVeigh to run unto and chip over the keeper and then following through to head the ball calmly into the net.
The Hoops then went all out to finish the tie and Mackin and McVeigh combined well but the defence scrambled the ball away. However the inevitable second goal came on 85 minutes after a defender dwelt on the ball and was robbed by O’Hare who rounded the keeper and slotted the ball home to complete the scoring and finish off a gallant effort by Bangor Amateurs who worked very hard for each other.
This week The Hoops travel to Larne for an Irish Cup game with a 3.00pm start with the second half under floodlights. Striker Fitzpatrick will be available but Niall Lavery is suspended for the game and although he got his stitches out last Friday Daniel Ryan won’t be fit to play again until the end of the month so there is a big responsibility on the available strikers try and deliver a cup shock.