Controversy reigns but vital point gained

Lurgan Celtic's Ciaran Rooney and Annagh's Paul Stretton compete for a high ball. INLM13-717.
Lurgan Celtic's Ciaran Rooney and Annagh's Paul Stretton compete for a high ball. INLM13-717.

The Hoops secured an excellent point against Portadown rivals Annagh United last weekend at Knockramer Park to help their bid in pulling clear of the relegation zone.

The game started off at a fast pace and most of the attacking was by the Hoops with Niall Lavery and Conor Hagan keeping a grip on midfield to feed Raymond Fitzpatrick and Conor Forker up front while Dale Malone was lively on the wing.

Ciaran Rooney, making his first start, settled well in midfield and Shea Campbell looked threatening up front for the visitors although he was well policed by Jonny Montgomery.

Malone broke upfield and was brought down but the free kick went wide and then Fitzpatrick had a shot rebound off a defender.

Annagh looked dangerous in several sorties upfield but McAnallen, McVeigh and Montgomery were in command of the penalty box keeping Ciaran Fox’s goal intact.

Lavery had a good chance but the ball fell to his left foot and went high and wide and Forker fed Fitzpatrick but the defence was up to the task and cleared with the first half ending scoreless/

Five minutes into the second half the Hoops went behind to a controversial score when Annagh were awarded a free kick and while the ref was having words with Celtic players, Annagh took a quick free and the ball was played to a forward who looked offside, he went down and to the amazement of the crowd a penalty was awarded.

There was a confrontation between the referee, linesman and quite a few Hoops players but tempers eventually cooled and Shea Campbell kept his composure to calmly slot the ball home. Shortly afterwards the visitors keeper took a high ball under pressure from Fitzpatrick and one of his own defenders and although no contact from anyone was obvious he fell to the ground seemingly injured and Celtic manager Colin Malone still seething from what he perceived an injustice remonstrated with the ref and was given his marching orders. At this stage it looked like the Hoops would lose their concentration but were rallied by Conor Hagan who was patrolling the midfield with great presence and things soon settled down and Celtic took control of the game.

After a corner Montgomery placed a shot just wide from an acute angle but the home team evened up the score on 68 minutes after good play by Fitzpatrick sent Malone through and he cut in from the left to score a well taken goal.

After this it was mostly Celtic on the attack and in one incident had a good shout for a penalty turned down. Rooney then made way for Jason Rogers and almost immediately he cut down the right and delivered a great cross to Malone who headed just over.

Towards the end Annagh broke upfield and a loose clearance fell invitingly to a forward but Fox stood up well and saved at his near post with the Hoops then going upfield and forcing a series of corners which the visitors defence somehow kept at bay to leave the game level at the end.

Despite the disappointment of only getting a point Celtic can take great heart from this performance against a side sitting fourth in the table. The match ball sponsor this week was Conwell Cleaning Services.

This Saturday Celtic are at home to Wakehurst with the k.o. 3.00pm.