Shock loss for Hoops

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LURGAN Celtic suffered a setback on Saturday when they lost 2-0 to bogey team Sport and Leisure Swifts.

This leaves Coagh still six points ahead but with only one more game played.This is the third game in succession that has been lost at home in a row and nine points out of a possible 12 in the last four league games have been dropped since December 3rd. This must be a worrying trend that is starting to show despite the magnificent achievement of success in the Bob Radcliffe Cup.

Suprisingly manager Ciaran O’Kane changed the side that demolished Annagh United by leaving out Ciaran McEvoy and Niall Lavery, bringing in defender Fra Brennan and midfielder Michael Downey to start, creating a big talking point amongst the spectators prior to the game. Keeper Ciaran Fox was only declared fit to play shortly befere kick off.

The Hoops started brightest and Downey found Andy Murnin who headed just over and the same player did the same from a free moments later. Both sides were finding it difficult to keep their feet on the greasy surface and there was little more of note during the early exchanges.

Raymond Fitzpatrick and Murnin combined to force a corner but it was cleared and seconds later Celtic nearly took the lead when Daniel Ryan and Fitzpatrick broke free and Ryan rounded the advancing keeper but his left footed shot was cleared off the line by a defender and cleared upfield.

Fitzpatrick failed to shake off a dead leg and was replaced up front by Aaron Haire, who had been injured since Boxing Day, but first blood went to Sport and Leisure who scored after 50 minutes when McMullan’s shot deflected off a Hoops defender.

Lavery came on for John Paul O’Hagan with the team going three at the back in a bid to take something from the game.

The Hoops them failed to take a glorious chance to level the match when Murnin burst through on the six yard box to round the keeper but somehow the effort ended up going away from goal.

The visitors were content to soak it up and clear their lines and in several breaks Conor McAnallen and Jonny McAreavey were on hand to stem any danger as Celtic were left to chase the game.

As so often happens when a team is going all out for a goal Celtic were dealt a sucker punch when substitute Johnston lobbed the ball over Fox to seal the win for the visitors and claim six points.

The Hoops have played them seven times in three seasons and only beaten them once and drew on another occasion losing the other five.

One saving grace for Celtic was that Annagh, in another shock, lost to PSNI but Knockbreda took three points and moved closer to Celtics second position which is now under serious threat if they don’t start picking up points.

This week they go to play Portstewart away at a ground which hasn’t yielded too many points to them as of late. This match has a 2pm kick off.