Lurgan Celtic travelled to Castledawson still smarting from Tuesday’s last minute 1-0 defeat by Newington.
With Adam Rodgers and Raymond Fitzpatrick both suspended Colm Rooney and John Cochrane were drafted in with Stephen Hutchinson moving to left back in a forced re- shuffle.
The game kicked off with the Hoops playing into bright sunshine making vision difficult but undeterred they went on the attack from kick-off and in the 2nd minute Chris Lavery forced a good save from keeper Marty Farniok in the hosts goal while a minute later Jonny McCarron headed wide from Chris Lavery’s corner.
Moyola then had their first chance but Gray headed over from Waddell’s corner and immediately Celtic broke upfield with Dale Malone forcing a fine save from Farniok.
The Hoops were making all the running in these early stages and a superb ball from Josh Barton found Chris Lavery who cut in from the left and sent a low drive past the far post when a goal looked on.
Despite having the better of the early exchanges the Hoops went behind on 23 minutes after McCarron couldn’t control a clearing header and the ball was played into the Hoops penalty box where David Healey had a shot which took a wicked deflection and ended up in the net.
Straight after the restart Malone headed over from Daniel Ryan’s cross and the same player hit a rasping drive from distance which looked destined for the top corner but again Farniok came to Moyola’s rescue with a terrific stop to keep his side in the lead.
Play ebbed and flowed for a time and Celtic were unlucky in the 39th minute when Ryan crashed Malone’s corner against the crossbar with a backheader with Moyola responding when Healey was put through by Gallagher but Conor McCorry made a good stop.
After the break Jason Rogers replaced Rooney and brother Aaron replaced McCarron with Hutchinson going back to his normal central defensive role and Celtic should have equalised when the ball broke to Malone on the penalty spot but the ball caught under his foot and he couldn’t get a shot in with the relieved defenders clearing and then Chris Lavery cut in from the left and forced another save from Farniok who single handedly was keeping the Hoops at bay.
Celtic then brought on Aaron Haire for Barton who had once again impressed in midfield and on 69 minutes in a Moyola breakaway McCorry pulled off a brilliant two handed save from a rasping drive. At this stage it looked like Celtic would never get the breakthrough they deserved mostly due to the home keeper and after he saved a shot from Haire, Malone slipped as he went for the rebound and the ball trundled wide of the net.
Ryan then had a shot saved but the equaliser came when Niall Lavery headed towards goal and namesake Chris latched onto the ball, swivelled and shot past Farniok to the joy of the travelling support.
Back came Moyola and when they were awarded a free Black’s effort looked like it was going towards the top of the net but McCorry tipped the ball over for a corner to keep the scores level and Haire headed narrowly over the bar. As time was running out a deep cross found Haire whose header looked goalbound but again that man Farniok produced a wonder save to deny the Hoops three points which they deserved and would have got only for the sensational display of the Moyola keeper who saved at least five goalbound efforts.
For Celtic a disappointing week with five points dropped but this point could well be crucial as they still occupy the top spot with three games to go and this was a battling display
On a positive note the display of young Aaron Rogers who captained the youth team to a league win this season showed a maturity beyond his years with a fine display after coming on and it wasn’t for lack of effort the Hoops didn’t win.
After the midweek game at Dollingstown, Celtic get a rest this weekend and resume the battle for the league with a home game against Sport and Leisure Swifts on Tuesday 28th April at 7.00pm finishing with an away game at Annagh United on Saturday 2nd May.