Point at the Port keeps Hoops top of the table

Action from the game between Portstewart and Lurgan Celtic.
Action from the game between Portstewart and Lurgan Celtic.

The game started with both sides going at a furious pace in a bid to take control and Celtic’s Chris Lavery had a fierce shot parried by Joel Middleton in the home goal and a few minutes later Michael Goff in the Celtic goal was called upon to turn a shot around the post.

Daniel Ryan then put over a cross for Lavery to head just wide and a minute later the Hoops made a break with Ryan having a run and shot which was tipped over the bar.

The opening exchanges were end to end and on 21 minutes the home side thought they had opened the scoring with a terrific shot bound for the top corner but Goff pulled off a great save pushing it over the bar.

Play continued from end to end with Celtic coming under pressure but the defence dealt well, in particular McConnell and John Cochrane with the nippy Portstewart forwards.

On 32 minutes Chis Lavery had a run and cross whizz across the six yard box and four minutes later the home side took the lead. Ryan lost possession around the centre circle and Portstewart broke in numbers and after a shot was only partially cleared Nigel Turner hit a volley into Goff’s top left hand corner to open the scoring.

Stung by this reversal the Hoops went upfield from the restart and forced corners but the home side just about cleared under pressure, but from a third corner Seeley sent over a deep ball and Cochrane leapt highest to head home the equaliser.

A clever ball by Niall Lavery nearly put Ryan through but it was cleared and from a Rodgers cross Ryan shot wide as Celtic kept up the pressure and on the stroke of half time Dale Malone was unlucky after a corner kick was only partially cleared and he hit a brilliant overhead shot from 12 yards which crashed against the post and was scrambled away.

The second half started with the Hoops on the attack and they were unlucky once more when Niall Lavery sent a clever chip from just inside the box towards the far post and with the keeper beaten hit the bar. Then Chris Lavery shot narrowly over.

Minutes later Turner, who was a threat all afternoon, shot wide after a mix up in the Hoops defence and at the other end Ryan crossed for Lavery to force a good save from Middleton in the home goal

Portstewart then broke upfield and Goff saved a header and as they applied more pressure. The home side missed a good chance when the ball was fired wide in an attack. Rodgers received treatment for an injury and had to leave the field to be replaced by Haire making his first appearance from injury since last year and the tiring Seeley was replaced by Hagan.

The game continued to ebb and flow but neither side was able to create that elusive winner. The McLeans Bookmakers Man of the Match being awarded to Nathan McConnell, returning after injury, who put in a solid display on the left side of the defence.

This week there are no league fixtures as the 4th round of the Irish Cup bringing Celtic a third away trip in a row this time thankfully a shorter one to Bangor who lead Championship 1 and are unbeaten in the league this season.

Fans please note that the game will now kick-off at 3.30pm and not 1.30pm as originally planned.

This will be a tough test for Celtic who suffered a heavy defeat last season in the League Cup but the Hoops are a different proposition this season and will be out to redress that result.

Lurgan Celtic Youth continued their fine form with a 4-2 win over Rockview with the goals coming from a Brian Toland hat-trick and one from Odhran Downey.