Celtic surge back to sink Comrades

Limerick FC take on Galway Utd on Saturday night
Limerick FC take on Galway Utd on Saturday night

Buoyed by their impressive home display against Lisburn Distillery Celtic made the trip to Ballyclare intent on gaining three points to edge up the table at a ground were many teams find points hard to come by.

The game kicked off a fast pace neither side wanting to give ground and within moments Aaron Haire went on a run down the right taking on the home back four who eventually scrambled the ball away.

Chris Lavery was causing problems on the left wing as Celtic probed for an opening but against the run of play went a goal down after a long high ball played towards the Hoops defence caught the central defenders out and Randel Reid rifled the ball past the exposed Conor McCorry. The home side then turned the screw on the Hoops defence and went all out for a second but five minutes later a very controversial episode led to the Hoops equaliser when Lavery took delivery of the ball,cut in and fired a blistering shot which keeper Greg Shannon got his fingertips to and pushed upwards with the ball going over the bar for a corner but the ball didnt go over the bar and it came down and hit the front of the crossbar with Raymond Fitzpatrick lurking and he drove it home

Immediately the referee was surrounded by the majority of the home team claiming he had blown the whistle in anticipation of a corner and that the linesman had also raised a flag for the same.A furious and heated argument ensued and the official was surrounded by irate Comrades players as he tried to consult with his linesman, eventually a kind of order was restored and after consulting with his colleague the official pointed to the centre circle to award a goal with the home support and players going beserk at the perceived injustice of it all.

Celtic took a grip on events and when a corner was gained Lavery sent over the kick deep into the heart of the home defence causing panic and after several shots were repelled Haire drove home putting the Hoops 2-1 ahead.

Celtic then took control of the game and just on the half time whistle a superb 50 yard crossfield ball out of defence by McVeigh found Lavery whose blistering shot was saved by Shannon keeping his side still within touching distance.

Thesecond period began with Comrades looking the sharper side but the hard working Colly Rooney in the Hoops midfield made several well timed tackles to frustrate the home side and on 50 mins the Hoops should have increased the lead after Rodgers played a great pass to Lavery who scampered down the left to send in a cross with Fitzpatrick just failing to make contact and the striker later claimed he had his heel clipped by a defender.

Ruairi McCann Dale Malone and Rooney battled in midfield refusing to yield ground to the Ballyclare attack but Lavery by now was creating havoc in the home defence and they had their work cut out to keep the score intact however on 70 minutes a corner from the right saw McCann head towards goal and when the ball was cleared Haire headed home bravely to put the Hoops two goals to the good.

Celtic then got a free kick and Malone caught them out when instead of playing the ball into the area he hit a reverse pass to Lavery who sent in a cross which was scrambled away and minutes later Malone also played a sublime backheel waist high flick through the Comrades defence which was scrambled away as Celtic kept the pressure on.

The McLeans Man of the Match was after a lot of deliberation was awarded to Adam Rodgers who put in a great shift at left back.

The youth team had a free week but the Reserves played Armagh City Res in the league at Lord Lurgan Park and came away with a thumping 5-1 victory to preserve their unbeaten record with a hat -trick from Nathan Lavery and a brace from Caolan Lavery which no doubt will have pleased manager Paul McGlone.