Armagh City 2-3 Dundela
Saturday marked the end of an era as Armagh City played their last home match on grass.
Once the football season is over, the diggers move into Holm Park to convert Bertie Hutchinson’s billiard-like surface to 3G. Unfortunately, however, City were unable to mark their final home game of the season with a win as they slipped to a 3-2 defeat to title-chasing Dundela.
But for much of the game a draw was on the cards and City will feel disappointed that they were unable to take a share of the spoils. The first half was packed full of action with a total of four goals coming to leave the sides level at the break.
But despite some great chances in the second half, it was the Duns who scored the winner to keep their promotion hopes on track. City took the lead in bizarre circumstances on 13 minutes – and it is a goal both defender Gary Walker and ‘keeper Robert Bailie will want to forget quickly. Walker played the simplest of back passes to Bailie but the ‘keeper made a complete airshot of his kick, missing the ball completely as it trickled over the line to give City a surprise lead. The visitors almost replied within seconds but it took a decent save from Sean Morgan to deny Kris Hunter.
Dundela were level though on 18 minutes from the penalty spot. Hunter was taken down in the box and David Murphy picked his spot to perfection to slot home the penalty. Four minutes later Hunter should have done better for the visitors when he found himself in a decent position but blasted well over the top. The game developed into a battle of the midfield for the majority of the first half with both sides struggling to create any worthy openings. But six minutes from the break Dundela scored an unlikely second goal when they made the most of a mistake by City. Miceal McKenna had an unfortunate slip when trying to clear the ball and that gave David Wright a free run in on goals to place his shot past Morgan.
The lead, however, didn’t last long as City drew level on 43 minutes with a goal straight from the training field. Dale Montgomery swung in a perfect free kick and Gavin Cusack popped up at the back post for the simplest of tap ins. And City could easily have gone in ahead moments later when Adam Nesbitt raced through only to put his attempted chip well wide. There was even time for another chance before the interval when McKenna headed Montgomery’s corner over the top.
Into the second half and City were denied the lead on 47 minutes thanks to some last-ditch Dundela defending. Cillian Sheridan showed some good trickery on the edge of the box before slipping the ball to Cusack who was unfortunate to see his shot cleared off the line by Murphy. Two minutes later City went close again when Gareth Grimley was just wide of the mark with a shot from the edge of the box.
City were starting to get on top and on 57 minutes Chris Maxwell broke but blasted his final effort over the top. Grimley had another chance for the hosts on 67 minutes from the edge of the box again, but once more he was unable to hit the target. But Dundela took the lead on 70 minutes with their first chance of the second half when Ben Roy let rip with a powerful effort that went in via the underside of the crossbar. City could have been level within minutes but Cusack’s header at the back post from a Montgomery corner was over the top.And eight minutes from time the post denied City a deserved equaliser when substitute James Nesbitt saw his shot from distance strike the woodwork.
Try as hard as they could, City were unable to find another goal but there are plenty of positive signs for manager Marty Rice to take as he starts to plan for next season.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Dara Noonan, Miceal McKenna, Cillian Sheridan, Gareth Grimley, Liam Cullen, Gavin Cusack, Adam Nesbitt, Chris Maxwell. Subs: James Nesbitt for Chris Maxwell (65 mins), Sean Mallon for Ryan McHerrigan (72 mins), Barry Quinn for Cillian Sheridan (83 mins). Not used: Jamie Crooks, James Cullen.Booked: Sean Mallon.
Dundela: Robert Bailie, Gary Walker, David Murphy (y/c), William Faulkner, Ryan Cardwell, David Hume, Gary Irwin, Stephen McCain, David Wright, Ben Roy, Kris Hunter. Subs: Scott Hill for Gary Irwin (60 mins), Glen Upton for David Wright (75 mins), Dwaine Beattie for Kris Hunter (88 mins). Not used: Paul Bullard.