Lurgan Celtic lost by a single goal to Queen’s University last Saturday in a pulsating match in which they deserved at least a point.
In arduous conditions credit must go to both teams who served up a feisty affair and kept the sizeable crowd on the edge of their seats right up to the final whistle.
As is the norm now this season Celtic went into the game missing several key players for various reasons including Boyd (flu), Fox (suspended), McArdle (injured), McCabe (holiday) and McAnallen (injured) so manager Ciaran O’Kane drafted in John Campbell and Stephen Magennis, and the two veterans rolled back the years to help out the Hoop’s in their hour of need.
Indeed the back four of Paul McAnallen, John Cochrane, Jamie Collins and Caolan Campbell surely had to be the youngest lining out for Celtic in years. The game started with chances at a premium with Celtic showing signs of promise with the direct running of Marshall and Toland
In the fifth minute a pass from Marshall found Magennis but his cross drifted wide. It wasn’t until the 19th minute that either team threatened to break the deadlock again when good build up play by Toland resulted in Marshall’s cross just missing Fitzpatrick who should have scored. The remaining minutes of the first half didn’t produce many chances as the game was predominantly contested in the middle third and it was the 41 year-old John Campbell who was dictating play from his deep lying midfield role.
The second half started in much the same vein as the first with Celtic on top but lacking any real threat up front as top scorer Fitzpatrick dropped deep to get on the ball. Manager O’Kane recognized the shift that Magennis had put in up front and replaced him with fresh legs in Ciaran Conway in the 50th minute.
Despite being on top the inexperience in Celtic’s defence was exposed in the 55th minute when a deep cross from the left allowed the Queen’s winger to ghost in at the back post to break the deadlock.
From the kick-off the home side didn’t drop the heads and indeed should have restored parity almost immediately when Fitzpatrick blazed wide when well placed but it was evident that Celtic would produce further chances. The home side’s task was helped in the 60th minute when a Queens’s defender received his marching orders after raising his hands to Rodgers. Celtic continued to press for the equalizer and had the best chance in the final minute when Conway somehow missed from close range to the disappointment of the home support. After a few heavy defeats in recent games it was a much improved display in both performance and effort and although it was a defeat O’Kane can take many positives from his very youthful side and indeed displays from Collins and Cochrane in the heart of defence can only bode well for future games.
With players hopefully returning in the coming weeks it is hoped this display can be turned into points to break away from the relegation battle and next up is an away trip to Chimney Corner.
The Club would like to thank Roy Kennedy Fuels for sponsoring the match ball.