Armagh City 2 Knockbreda 5
A LATE goal blitz by Knockbreda smashed Armagh City’s unbeaten start to their Championship Two campaign at Holm Park on Saturday.
Three scores in nine minutes turned the match completely on its head and pushed the visitors to the top-of-the-league – albeit on points difference from City and Lurgan Celtic.
Armagh made a tentative start to the match, with all the early pressure coming from high-flying Knockbreda.
Michael Chines fired in an early warning for the visitors but City ‘keeper Sean Morgan got down well to avert the danger.
Armagh did not heed this warning, however, and almost immediately fell behind.
On 15 minutes Chines whipped in a near-post corner and Knockbreda striker Joe Finlay was quickest to react, touching the ball past the struggling Morgan.
After this initial shock City managed to get back into the match and set up several raids of their own.
And this resulted in their equalising score after 32 minutes.
A long Dale Montgomery cross from the right deceived ‘keeper Paul Cairnduff who only succeeded in palming the ball to the back-post where Armagh’s Barry Quinn was waiting to head home.
Moments later the visitors hit back and were unlucky to see a Conor Corry snap-shot strike an upright and bounce clear.
Both sides were now flying forward at every opportunity and City striker Stephen Murray sent a rasping shot just over the crossbar after racing clear of the opposition defence.
At 1-1 by the interval the teams had everything to play for after the break.
The opening second-half chance fell to Knockbreda when a driven cross from Paul Young was headed narrowly wide by centre-back Jim McMenimen.
But City weathered this early storm and began to mount a series of dangerous raids.
And, on 67 minutes, their attacking ambitions paid off in style.
An inch-perfect pass from Armagh captain Liam Cullen was placed into the path of Murray who sprinted past his marker and fired a low shot into the corner of the net.
But the Holm Park side only managed to keep in front for seven minutes.
Ironically, one of the smallest players on the pitch, Conor Corry, sneaked in at the back-post to head home a Young cross for the vital equaliser.
Both teams were now chasing the win but it was Knockbreda who managed to break the deadlock on 83 minutes.
Armagh lost the ball in midfield and it eventually fell to Chines who smashed home a low shot at the second attempt.
City heads visably dropped at this stage but they still managed to push forward in search of the equaliser.
However, Armagh lost the ball on the edge of the opposition ’18’ on 90 minutes and the visitors mounted a swift counter-attack which resulted in sub Gareth Corey chipping the ball over the advancing Morgan to make it 4-2.
Two minutes into injury-time a speculative but brilliant shot from James Wright flew into the top of the City net as Knockbreda ran out somewhat flattering 5-2 winners.
A real learning curve for the young Armagh outfit against a physical and well drilled visiting side who are now clear favourites to win Chamionship Two – after missing out narrowly in the last two seasons.
Things don’t get any easier for Armagh City as this Saturday, October 20, they travel to meet a strong PSNI team in Belfast. Kick-off 3pm.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan (y/c), Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan (Dara Noonan on 85), Ultan Lennon, Johnny Walker, Matthew Hynds (Adam Nesbitt on 85), Barry Quinn (Ryan McShane on 75), Liam Cullen, Stephen Murray, Gavin Cusack, Shea McGerrigan.
Knockbreda: Paul Ciarnduff, Stephen Curley (y/c, Gareth Corey on 83), Conor Corry, Michael McClean (y/c), Jim McMenimen, James Wright, Matthew Johnston (y/c), Stephen Hislop (Eddie Williamson on 61), Miguel Chines, Joe Finlay (Colm Curtis on 61), Paul Young. Subs DNP: Daniel Hanna, Stephen Brennan.
Ref: Mr Wesley Campbell (Augher).
Nine Minute Goal-Blitz Knocks City Off The Top
Armagh City 2 Knockbreda 5