Armagh City 3-3 Annagh United
Six goals, yellow cards, a sending off for a head butt and thunderous tackles – Saturday’s Championship Two derby at Holm Park between City and Annagh had it all!
Armagh will feel disappointed not to have taken all three points after playing the last 26 minutes of the game with an extra man after Kenny Camlin’s red card.
But Annagh, too, will feel they could have taken the win – had Camlin not been dismissed for a head butt on City captain Liam Cullen on 64 minutes. That moment of madness probably did cost the visitors the win as, at that stage, they were 3-2 ahead and looked comfortable. While derby games are usually full of spirit, they rarely result in six goals being scored.
City went into the game without central defender Dara Noonan but bar him, manager Marty Rice was able to field his strongest possible squad.
Going into the game on the back of four league defeats, it was vital that City got off to a good start and that’s exactly what happened as Adam Nesbitt raced into space after three minutes and came close to giving his side the lead, forcing a good save from Andrew Wright at his near post.
Moments later Nesbitt tried his luck again, this time from distance, but his effort was wide. Annagh, however, responded and they thought they had taken the lead from their first meaningful attack of the game on seven minutes.
Camlin’s free kick into the box was volleyed in by Darragh Peden – only for the defender to see his goal ruled out for offside.
But a minute later it was City who took the lead. A poor header back by Peden put Alan Murphy under pressure. The former City captain was hassled all the way by Gavin Cusack and, in his attempt to clear the ball from danger, Murphy ended up lobbing his own ‘keeper.
City’s lead lasted just three minutes as Annagh bounced right back when Nicky Finlay conceded a needless free kick on the edge of the box and up stepped Camlin who directed his shot past the reaches of City ‘keeper Sean Morgan into the bottom corner.
Back came City and they should have regained the lead on 20 minutes when Nesbitt raced free but he was let down by his final shot on target. But on 29 minutes City were back in front when Andy Moore was left free inside the box and he was able to head Dale Montgomery’s corner into the top corner.
The hosts were starting to take control of the game at this stage and three minutes after taking the lead, they went close again. This time Montgomery was able to get to the ball ahead of Wright, crossed to the back post where Nesbitt missed an absolute sitter whilst unmarked. That proved costly for City as, with three minutes before the break, Annagh drew level again.
Camlin’s corner was headed on at the front post by Murphy and Peden was on hand to knock the ball over the line. But there was still time for City to go back into the lead before the break but Cullen’s header in injury time from Montgomery’s corner was just over the top.
The half time break couldn’t have come at a worse time for City as they were enjoying the majority of play. Annagh, however, were able to address their problems during the interval and it was they who came out better for the second half.
City, in fact, were very slow after the break and they were second to everything as started to exert pressure and on 57 minutes Annagh took the lead for the first time in the game. Murphy won the ball and released Jamie Gardiner down the right. The midfielder checked his run, made space for himself to deliver a pin-point cross to Dean Smith who made no mistake in firing past Morgan.
Annagh were looking comfortable until Camlin’s moment of madness when he head butted Cullen, leaving referee Ally Burns with no choice but to show a straight red card.
That was the game changer and within seven minutes City were level when substitute Richard Nesbitt exposed Annagh for pace at the back and his delivery from the right found Montgomery free in the box who fired home the equaliser.
City had regained their confidence and they went for the jugular as manager Rice went with three at the back in search of the win. And five minutes from time, and moments after coming on as a replacement, Chris Maxwell was standing unmarked in the Annagh box as City attacked down the right but, much to his frustration, none of his team mates were able to see the position he was in.
But, a minute later, Maxwell was found in a similar position by John Whitten however he was unable to get a clean enough contact on his shot.
City continued to push for the remainder of the game – as well as the five minutes of injury time – but they were unable to get the vital breakthrough.
Before the game City would have taken a point but, given the circumstances, they will be disappointed that they were unable to claim all three.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Ryan Metaclfe, Ryan McGerrigan, Nicky Finlay, Neil Cochrane, Andy Moore, John Whitten, Liam Cullen, Gavin Cusack, Adam Nesbitt, Dale Montgomery.
Subs: Richard Nesbitt for Adam Nesbitt (69 mins), Chris Maxwell for Ryan McGerrigan (85 mins). Not used: Cillian Sheridan.
Booked: Nicky Finlay, Neil Cochrane, Dale Montgomery.
Annagh United: Andrew Wright, Chris Coleman, Dee McErlean, Darragh Peden, Alan Murphy, Shane Mulgrew, Kenny Camlin, Jordon Bell, Scott McCordick, Jamie Gardiner, Dean Smith.
Subs: Richie Allen for Alan Murphy (73 mins). Not used: Nathan Riddle, Francis McCann.
Booked: Dee McErlean, Scott McCordick, Dean Smoth.
Sent off: Kenny Camlin.
Referee: Ally Burns (Portadown)
Six goal thriller at Holm Park
Armagh City 3-3 Annagh United