Vital victory for Celtic

Dale Malone (left). Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Dale Malone (left). Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Lurgan Celtic enjoyed a welcome return to winning ways following a 2-0 home win over 10 man Loughgall on Saturday.

With only four points separating the bottom five teams in Irish Championship One, both sides were keen to pick up maximum points.

Missing Daniel Ryan against his former club, Ciaran Ryan due to continued suspension, Raymond Fitzpatrick and the recently departed Richie Thompson, Lurgan Celtic were void of any natural striker in their starting line up, with Rian Devlin tasked with leading the line on his own.

However, the defence was boosted by the return of both Conor McAnallen and Stephen Hutchinson.

Despite the importance of the game, the opening 45 minutes was a tame affair with few clear cut chances for either side.

The match was brought to life when Loughgall were reduced to 10 men early in the second half as Chris Elliott was issued a second yellow card for a challenge on Jordan Gibson.

With the extra man advantage, Lurgan Celtic pressed for the opening goal and they finally made the breakthrough on 65 minutes courtesy of a Hutchinson penalty after Wright was brought down inside the Loughgall penalty box.

This goal provided great relief to the Lurgan Celtic team and support, after a recent poor run of form and results.

As Loughgall pushed for an equaliser, and Aaron Rogers should have scored when picked out in the penalty box by Rian Devlin, however he put his effort over the bar with the goal gaping. Stephen Hutchinson also almost scored a second for the team and for himself on the day when he connected with a corner, but his header drifted wide of the target. It wasn’t until the 88th minute that Celtic doubled their lead, when Malone looped a header from a McVeigh freekick deep into the Loughgall penalty area, over the keeper’s head and into the net.

The game changed with the sending off incident, but few can argue that Lurgan Celtic were not worthy winners, and hopefully they can carry this result and performance through to next weeks game away to PSNI.

LURGAN CELTIC: McCorry; McAnallen, Hutchinson, Cochrane, Rogers; Barton, Gibson, Malone, McVeigh, Wright; R.Devlin