Ace Toland seals dramatic comeback win for Hoops

Lurgan Celtic came away from West Belfast with all three points in dramatic fashion after scoring the winner in injury time.

The game started with the young Hoops having the majority of possession but as in recent matches they lacked a cutting edge up front.

Brendan Mackin, who was playing his last match before departing to Australia, started with a trademark run but his shot went just wide. Despite dominating the play Celtic looked vulnerable when the home side counter attacked and in the 21st minute this proved the case as Gallagher rifled home after a speculative through ball evaded the Hoops defence to make it 1-0.

The main attacking threat for Celtic was coming from the surging runs of Mackin and again in the 34th minute his run and pass found Toland but his shot was pushed wide by the keeper. Celtic equalised in the 42nd minute when a quick break down the right by Fitzpatrick who squared to wing back Campbell to slot home. The away side seemed buoyed by the goal and would have taken 1-1 into the break, but unfortunately the referee awarded a soft penalty on the stroke of half-time to Sport & Leisure for a push and the home side had the advantage at the break.

Despite going into the second half behind the Hoops were playing some decent football with Rodgers and Mackin playing well in midfield and also Conor McAnallen who was carrying the ball out of defence on numerous occasions coupled with his work rate playing superbly. As in previous weeks an individual error cost Celtic in the 58th minute when a poor mistake in defence allowed Leisure to further their lead through Corr and give Celtic a mountain to climb.

With the game approaching the last ten minutes it was hard to see a way back for Celtic, but they where given a lifeline in the 78th minute when a push on Toland by McMullan who had been guilty all game of fouling led to Fitzpatrick smashing home the penalty to make it 3-2. The travelling support could sense a comeback and it was the impressive Mackin who equalised in the 83rd minute when he volleyed home from the left edge of the box to make it 3-3.

With both sides tiring towards the end the game was wide open and either side could have won it but it was to be Celtic’s day when Toland, who was having a quiet game, proved his ability in the 92nd minute when he stroked home to earn a valuable three points and halt the recent run of defeats.

This win could prove vital in giving this young side confidence and hopefully they can carry this through to this weeks tough away fixture to PSNI.