Armagh City 2 -0 Lurgan Celtic
Armagh City brought Lurgan Celtic’s unbeaten Championship Two run to an end with a decisive 2-0 win at Holm Park on Saturday.
A double blast from young winger Dale Montgomery settled the outcome which, for long periods, hung in the balance.
Armagh had to weather the storm on several occasions as the lively Celtic set up promising attacking moves but an inability to convert their chances was to cost the visitors dear in the end.
City, on the other hand, finished clinically and, as a result of their victory, leap-frogged the opposition into fifth place in the championship.
Armagh almost conceded a score in the opening minute when the ball deflected off a defender from a corner-kick but ‘keeper Morgan pulled off a magnificent save at full stretch to deny Celtic.
The home side, however, almost took the lead themselves on 23 minutes when a good move down the right resulted in John Whitten shooting just over the opposition crossbar.
Two minutes later Armagh midfielder Gavin Cusack broke into the box but he dragged his left-footed effort just wide with the goal at his mercy.
Just after the half-hour mark City again had another opportunity to score but a snap-shot from Adam Nesbitt was easily saved.
Half-time: Armagh City 0 Lurgan Celtic 0.
On the restart Celtic began with a bang and they could easily have opened up a two-goal lead in a two-minute spell.
Firstly, a City defender shaved his own upright as he tried to clear a high ball into the box and, from the resultant corner, Mackin contrived to push his powerful downward header wide from just three yards out.
Then Cusack made a desperate save on the goal-line as Celtic continued to press and this proved to be the turning point in the match.
For, after another fine save from Morgan at the feet of Lavery, City made the visitors pay for their misses.
On 65 minutes they took the lead when Liam Cullen’s inch-perfect pass found Nesbitt and his touch inside was met by the flying Montgomery who blasted the ball past the exposed Liam Fox.
And, three minutes later, Armagh made sure of the points when Nesbitt and Cusack combined well on the edge of the penalty area before a driven cross to the back-post by Nesbitt was once again met by the onrushing Montgomery who gave Fox no chance from close range.
Celtic became ragged at this stage and the Holm Park side twice more broke with speed and skill and could have added to their tally had the ball run slightly kinder for Cusack.
Overall, this was a much improved performance from City who built their win on a superb and resolute defensive performance.
The only disappointment on the day was the injury-time sending-off of Armagh captain Cullen by ref Danny Colton for two bookable offences.
Unfortunately, this means the hard-working midfielder will automatically miss the match this Saturday away to current Championship Two leaders, Coagh United.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Ultan Lennon, Ryan McGerrigan (y/c, Gerard Kerr 89), Dara Noonan, Neil Cochrane, John Whitten, Gavin Cusack, Liam Cullen (2 y/c, red 92), Adam Nesbitt (Richard Nesbitt 80), Johnny McSorley (y/c, Gareth Grimley 69), Dale Montgomery.
Lurgan Celtic: Fox, McAnallen, Magenniss (McKerr on 55), Docherty (McAreavey on 70), O’Hara, Lavery, Mackin, Marshall (y/c), Fitzpatrick, Murphy, Haire (Reynolds on 78).