A spectacular strike from Shane McCabe helped Lurgan Celtic defeat Loughgall in this crucial league clash at Knockramer Park on Saturday.
The Hoops had the task of getting a result made all the more difficult with the absence of influential players Stephen Hutchinson and Raymond Fitzpatrick, both unavailable for selection.
Celtic almost took an early lead on five minutes when Adam Rodgers popped up at the far post from A Malone free kick only to head narrowly wide. The breakthrough came on 11 minutes when another great delivery from Malone found Shea Conaty in space inside the box and he glanced a header past the Loughall keeper to score his first goal the hoops.
As the half progressed Celtic took control with McVeigh and Shannon winning the fascinating battle in the middle of the park and Aaron Haire looking dangerous up front.
On 35 minutes the game took a turn when Jamie Rea for Loughall was shown a red card for a high tackle on Dale Malone, a harsh decision felt by many in the crowd. Celtic went into the break deservedly in front, and with an extra player, confident of adding to their lead in the second half.
Loughall’s task when made even harder when they had to replace Buchanan in goals with striker Warner Mullan at the interval.
Celtic again were passing the ball well making Loughall work hard to gain some possession and looking dangerous from set pieces.
On 55 minutes a corner was cleared to Shane McCabe who was 40 yards out, and as manager Malone shouted ‘hit it, hit it’ he did and a fine strike it was. The ball seemed to be heading over only to take a dip at the last second and crash of the crossbar, hit the keeper and into the net.
This goal seemed to galvanise Loughall as they started to play with more desire and hunger being two goals down, without testing McCorry in the Celtic goals.
Celtic seemed content to see the game out and with 12 minutes remaining captain McVeigh was shown a red card after a high challenge.Again, as the dismissal in the first half, a harsh decision as their was no malice in the challenge,
Loughall battled to the end a got a consolation goal deep into injury time but it was Celtic’s victory as they continue to climb the Championship table and away from the dreaded drop zone.
Best for Celtic on the day were Shane McCabe in defence, Malone with some great deliveries and McLeans Bookmakers Man of the Match Adam Rodgers who had a steady game at left back.
The match ball was sponsored by Paddy Conwell from Clonwell Cleaning Services.
Next up is a tricky tie away to H&W Welders in the league.