Celtic bounce back from early blow to pick up home win
Lurgan Celtic entered Saturday’s NIFL Championship One fixture off the back of a testing League Cup tie against top-flight Carrick Rangers that stretched beyond normal time and into extra-time before a penalty shoot-out exit.
However, Colin Malone’s players produced a determined display to maintain the unbeaten league run and capture three welcome points despite trailing to Knockbreda.
Josh Barton’s superb diving header and a Ronan O’Hara penalty kick secured victory on home soil.
Daniel Wilson was handed a debut display in the heart of the backline, with Ruairi McCann replacing the injured Declan McVeigh at right-back and Steven Hutchinson completing the backline alongside Adam Rodgers.
Knockbreda fired goalwards early on as both sets of players enjoyed periods in possession.
Dale Malone tested the Knockbreda goalkeeper, Raymond Fitzpatrick headed towards the target off O’Hara’s free-kick.
Celtic had a goalmouth scramble hacked clear before Knockbreda sparked a counter-attack which ended with the visitors breaking the deadlock late in the half.
A well-timed tackle by McCann kept Knockbreda from increasing the lead and Celtic regrouped to regain control, with Fitzpatrick’s cross converted by Barton.
A penalty shout was dismissed moments later, with Aaron Haire close to adding to the hosts’ tally.
Haire made an impact soon after when his run into the penalty area ended in a foul and O’Hara slotted home.
Victory marked a first win at home to Knockbreda across league and cup following six previous setbacks.
Kick-off on Saturday in the Bob Radcliffe Cup at home to Rathfriland Rangers will be 2.30.
Celtic reserves defeated Bourneview YM by 3-0 in the Wilmore Johnston Cup, with the youth sides completing a first club clean sweep in 32 years.