McArdle and Fitzpatrick help earn Celtic crucial three points

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Lurgan Celtic made their second trip of the season to Castledawson last Saturday, this time to take on Wakehurst who like the visitors are having an inconsistent season.

Celtic have bad memories of their previous visit when they came out on the wrong side of a shock 4-0 defeat to Moyola Park.

Back between the posts after a six week absence was Ciaran Fox and on the bench was Conor McAnallen who was not available last week. John Cochrane was also back in central defence after a one match suspension.

Celtic lined out similar to last week with five across midfield with Stephen McArdle moving from the full back slot and Stephen Boyd went to right back.

The opening 15 minutes saw both sides giving little away with the home side edging the possession, but after a Sam Marshall cross found Raymond Fitzpatrick’s header being cleared, Celtic gained a corner from a free kick and took the lead on 17 minutes when Cochrane headed against the upright and as the ball was played back across the area. McArdle reacted quickest to slot home into the left hand corner of the goal.

Immediately after this Marshall crossed to Fitzpatrick who fired narrowly over. Wakehurst couldn’t break through the Celtic defence and they were forced into shooting from distance through sheer frustration although Fox in the Celtic goal had one shakey moment when a Cochrane header played back to him was too light and the keeper did well to thwart the danger.

For the rest of the half Celtic dealt with anything the home side could offer although Jason Paul looked dangerous in any attacks, he was well marshalled by the back four with Shane McCabe and Caolan Campbell covering plenty of ground to keep Wakehurst at bay aided by the tight grip kept on midfield by Jason Rodgers, Marshall and McArdle with Fitzpatrick dominating play all over the field popping up in defence, midfield and attack.

The visitors started the second half in the same mode and Marshall drew a good save from the goalkeeper within minutes of the restart but Celtic doubled the lead on 50 minutes when they were awarded a free kick. With Wakehurst expecting a shot or a high delivery the ball was played sideways to McArdle who pushed the ball into the box and Fitzpatrick blasted home, definitely something that was worked out on the training ground. Minutes later Fitzpatrick intercepted a loose pass on the halfway line and with a defender chasing him bore down on goal and flashed a rasping drive inches wide of the post.

The home side launched an attack but Conor Gregg’s effort was well saved by Fox and Celtic broke swiftly upfield with McCabe and McArdle feeding Marshall who was just wide. Wakehurst forced a corner and Paul Muir saw a header tipped over by Fox, but this was the last real goal chance the home side had. Conor McAnallen replaced Rodgers 15 minutes from time with Celtic playing some fine one touch football and although this was a great all round team performance, Fitzpatrick gave a virtuoso performance and was without doubt the outstanding player on view.