Armagh City’s inconsistent season continued on Saturday with a fine away win against Moyola Park. Marty Rice’s charges will be looking to avoid being sucked into a relegation battle and signalled their intentions to do just that by looking to put the struggling home side out of sight by half time.
With seven minutes gone Dale Montgomery combined well with Gavin Cusack on the left wing and when Cusack got the ball into the penalty area City skipper Liam Cullen placed his header superbly into the far corner for a 1-0 lead.
Two minutes later Armagh were on the attack again as Dale Montgomery made space for himself and sent in a low drive which seemed destined for the same corner of the Moyola net only for home goalkeeper Garth Maguire to get a vital touch. Cillian Sheridan sent a low drive just wide, Nicky Finlay couldn’t get a header on target following a corner and Andy Moore’s header from a free kick was just off target as City failed to build on the narrow lead.
Moyola improved as the half went on and had their fair share of possession but City defended well and the home side created no real chances. In the final five minutes of the half McGerrigan played a good bal through to Andy Moore who low shot was just off target. In the final seconds of the first half there seemed to be no real threat to the Moyola goal when Adam Nesbitt picked up the ball on the right wing but he went on a mazy run through the defence and slotted the ball past Maguire to leave City in a stronger position at half time.
The influential Liam Cullen didn’t come out for the second half, although his replacement, Darren Bruce, was immediately in the action when he sent Dale Montgomery clear on the left. His cross was met by Andy Moore but Maguire saved comfortably. However Moyola began to take advantage of Cullen’s absence and when the ball fell to McFadden in space, he got in a good long range drive which Sean Morgan did well to turn on to the crossbar but although the ball was cleared beyond the edge of the penalty area a mistimed tackle gave the hosts a free kick which Monaghan blasted towards the corner of the net only to be disappointed when Morgan turned the ball away.
After seeing little action in the first half Morgan had saved City twice within a minute and he was to keep his side in the game another twice in the opening ten minutes of the second half. First he held another effort from Monaghan and then Stewart hit a high lob over his head from the left wing only to see the City goalkeeper take a step backwards and rise to tip the ball away for a corner. City weathered the storm and with 60 minutes gone Adam Nesbitt broke away well but his final pass was just too far ahead of Darren Bruce. With 72 minutes gone Cillian Sheridan, who looked dangerous throughout, sent a great through ball for Bruce to chase and he slotted it confidently past Maguire to make the score 3-0 leaving City supporters in the stand to debate when he last scored a goal for the club’s first team (it was actually against Cookstown United in August 1998).
From then on it was a case of seeing the game out and comfortable win looked to be almost over when City launched a final attack and Cillian Sheridan first won a free kick and then took it, floating the ball to the far post where it was met by Nicky Finlay who headed his first Irish League goal. The four goal deficit was maybe a bit harsh on Moyola and in injury time they almost pulled one back with a right wing fee kick but Sean Morgan turned the ball away to complete a satisfying away win.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Ryan Metcalfe, Ryan McGerrigan (Dara Noonan), Nicky Finlay, Neil Cochrane (yc), Andy Moore, Cillian Sheridan, Liam Cullen (Darren Bruce 46), Gavin Cusack, Adam Nesbitt (Richard Nesbitt 77), Dale Montgomery
Moyola Park: Garth Maguire, Stewart Lennox, Garth Stewart, Stephen McQuillan, Steven Kelly (yc), Daniel McFadden, Paul McIntyre, Mervyn Pattison (Marc Harkness 75), Michael Mullen, Conor Monaghan, James Johnston
Referee: Stephen Wallace, Londonderry