Lurgan Celtic suffered their second league defeat of the season in this tough away trip to Drumahoe on Saturday and also lost more key players through injury.
The Hoops were without six players due to injury, unavailability and suspension with young Jamie McAtavey making his league debut in goal and after losing two cup games in a week, Celtic were hoping to get their season back on track.
Both sides were sounding each other out early on although Celtic’s young keeper McAtavey was the busier of the two. Play ebbed from end to end with no real end product but on 19 minutes Institute’s centre forward broke through and the Hoops custodian made a sensational save from point blank range and from the break Dale Malone broke upfield and forced a save out of the home keeper
Institute playing with confidence didn’t resemble a team at the bottom of the league and Celtic were missing the presence of Steven Hutchinson at centre half
Josh Barton fired in a low shot which the keeper parried to save the home side going behind and it looked like Celtic were getting the measure of their opponents although John Cochrane had to make several well timed interceptions in the heart of the Hoops defence.
In the 35th minute Shane suffered a recurring hamstring problem and had to leave the field being replaced by Declan McVeigh who was on the bench as he was still shaking off an injury himself.Just on the half time whistle a through ball found Friel who fired the home side in front past the isolated McAtavey.
The second half began with the Hoops trying to salvage the game but they suffered another disruption when Malone pulled up clutching his hamstring and had to be replaced by Aaron Rogers with Adam Rodgers moving into midfield.
Aaron Haire was showing signs of an injury as well and Colly Rooney picked up a knock making a tackle and was booked for his trouble but was able to continue after treatment.
Aaron Haire was replaced on 70 minutes as he also suffered a hamstring injury and on came James Doyle with McVeigh moving to midfield in yet another re-shuffle but three minutes later a silly free kick resulted in O’Donald heading home past the stranded McAtavey.
The home side now had their tails up and Celtic looked deflated with the run of injuries they had suffered so it was no surprise when Friel claimed his second goal after a Hoops attack broke down.
The McLeans Celtic Man of the Match award went to Colly Rooney. Next up for the Hoops is a home tie with Lisburn Distillery on Saturday, kick-off is 3.00pm.
The Celtic Club are holding a fund raising night in aid of the Celtic FC Foundation Ability Counts Ireland Project on Saturday night while during the day the SPL League trophy will be in the clubrooms to give the underage players a chance to be photographed with it.