Armagh City 2-0 Portstewart
Armagh City confirmed their Belfast Telegraph Championship Two status for next season with this very comfortable 2-0 win over Portstewart on Saturday.
The Holm Park side completely dominated proceedings and should have rattled in several more scores from the numerous chances they created.
However, much of the credit for restrictring the rampant City must go to Portstewart ‘keeper Joel Madison who pulled off a succession of superb saves during the 90 minutes. And the visitors were also handicapped on 30 minutes when central defender Gary Taylor was red-carded by Banbrige whistler Damien Basketfield for deliberately handling the ball on the goal-line.
The writing was on the cards from the kick-off with Armagh peppering the opposition goalmouth. Gavin Cusack had a low shot well blocked by the outstretched legs of Madison and the big stopper then made a magnificent follow-up save to deny Adam Nesbitt.
On 16 minutes Chris Maxwell was the latest victim to fall foul of the tremendous shot-stopping ability of Madfison and, almost immediately, Cusack was very unlucky to have his shot saved on the goal-line by the scrambling ‘keeper.
Despite all the pressure City were unable to break down the visitors who almost took a surprise lead on 22 minutes. A cross from the right was met powerfully by striker Sam Boyland and it took the combined efforts of defender Jamie Crooks and ‘keeper Sean Morgan to prevent the ball crossing the goal-line. But, on 26 minutes, the deserved breakthrough eventually came.
The impressive Chris Maxwell collected the ball on the left and cut inside two defenders before unleashing a fantastic 20-yard effort which flew into the top left-hand corner of the net, this time giving Madison no chance. And five minutes later City were 2-0 ahead.
Another goalbound shot from Maxwell was handled on the goal-line by Portstewart defener Taylor but still found the back of the net. However, referee Basketfield disallowed the score and immediately pointed to the penalty spot. Taylor was then given his marching orders for the handling offence. It was left to Adam Nesbitt to take the spot-kick and he successfully drilled a low shot into the bottom left-hand corner of the goals. Before the break Cusack had a header and a shot well saved as Armagh continued to press.
Half-time: Armagh City 2-0 Portstewart
On the restart the local side had to reshuffle as Jamie Crooks was withdrawn during the interval suffering from the effects of a head clash. But Armagh continued where they had left off and Nesbitt hit an early 20-yard effort which just curled around an upright.
Madison then made a superb double save from Cusack and then sub Cillian Sheridan was unlucky when his clever chipped shot went inches wide. The Portstewart stopper then saved at the feet of Nesbitt on 74 minutes and City were disallowed a goal for off-side when it was clear the ball had been diverted into the net by a unfortunate visiting defender.
With 10 minutes left Nesbitt had another glorious chance to add to the tally but he somehow blasted the ball over the crossbar from just six yards out.
Another fine all-round display by City, with Chris Maxwell and Ryan McGerrigan the pick of the players this time around.
After the match two players who had reached personal milestones with Armagh City were presented with salvers from committee member Aidan Murphy. Club captain Liam Cullen has now played 200 senior games for the club while Gavin Cusack reached 100 against Portstewart. Congratulations to both players on reaching these landmarks!
This Saturday Armagh play their final home Championship Two encounter of the season when they welcome the high-flying east Belfast outfit Dundela. The match kicks-off in Holm Park at 3pm.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Dara Noonan (y/c), Jamie Crooks (Cillian Sheridan on 46), Michael McKenna, Marty Lavery (Gareth Grimley on 61), Liam Cullen, Gavin Cusack, Adam Nesbitt (Barry Quinn on 75), Chris Maxwell. Subs DNP: Darren Bruce, James Nesbitt.
Portstewart: Joel Madison, Connor Ferguson, Che Bradley, Gary Taylor (red card 30), Colin Finlay, Ian Todd, Andrew White, Niall Quinn, Sam Boylan, Gary Quinn (Ryan McAllister on 61), Danny Austin (Kris McNeice on 69).
Ref: Mr Damien Basketfield, Banbridge.