Armagh City 1 Lurgan Celtic 0
A SPIRITED Armagh City regained second spot in the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two following their narrow 1-0 win over Lurgan Celtic at Holm Park on Saturday.
But the victory came at a price – as Shea McGerrigan was given his marching orders after the break by Augher whistler Wesley Campbell.
This means the flying winger will automatically miss City’s Irish Cup fourth round encounter against Ards this weekend!
Against Celtic, it was the home side who started quickly and created the early openings.
City, in fact, took a deserved third minute lead when Gavin Cusack rose high in the box to head home a Shea McGerrigan corner, leaving Lurgan ‘keeper Kieran Fox grasping at air in the process.
This pattern of play continued and several minutes later Gareth Grimley was denied when Fox rushed out to smother his shot.
Cusack almost grabbed a second score midway through the half when he met a driven cross from the left but, this time, the striker was just unable to direct his headed effort on target.
On 40 minutes Armagh had another clear-cut chance when Cusack set up Shea McGerrigan in the box but he drove a powerful shot narrowly wide with Fox beaten all ends up.
And, with half-time approaching, the home side had yet another golden opportunity to score when Liam Cullen’s defence-splitting pass found Grimley who shot just over the top from 10-yards out.
Despite their narrow interval lead, City looked comfortable and in control.
They once again began strongly after the break and forced a trio of corners without reward.
But, within minutes, the entire pattern of the match was to change dramatically.
Shea McGerrigan broke into the opposition box and went down under a challenge from McVeigh. There were appeals for a penalty but referee Campbell booked the Armagh player for diving.
This was the winger’s second ‘yellow’ and, as a result, he was sent off with some 35 minutes of the match remaining.
Now down to 10-men, City re-organised as Celtic began to mount increasing pressure as they used the extra-man to superb effect.
However, the Armagh back-four of Dale Montgomery, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan and Ryan McGerrigan, remained resolute and, despite one or two scares, looked comfortable and held the rampant Lurgan forwards with relative ease.
And, when the visiting forwards did get a shooting opportunity on goals, they were met by acrobatic ‘keeper Sean Moran who pulled off three crucial stops in the second period.
But in the topsy-turvey match, there was to be a final cruel twist.
For, within an eight minute period, two Celtic players – Declan McVeigh and Paul Donegan – were sent off by the ref.
The first red card resulted in a penalty for City but Montgomery blasted the spot-kick off Fox and the post. As the ball bobbled in the six-yard box an onrushing Armagh player looked sure to score from the follow-up but the ball cannoned off the dispairing Montgomery who, at the same time, tried to make amends for his initial miss.
This was the last action in a hard fought game which hardly merited three sendings-off and the brandishing of several yellow cards!
All the City players can take comfort from their performance at the weekend with the plaudits, on this occasion, going to the central defensive partnership of Lennon and Noonan.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan, Micheal McKenna, Gareth Grimley (Matthew Hynds on 88), Liam Cullen (y/c),
Gavin Cusack, Paul Carville, Shea McGerrigan (2xy/c, red card). Subs not used: John Daly, Johnny Walker, Chris Maxwell, Adam Nesbitt.
Lurgan Celtic: Ciaran Fox, Declan McVeigh (2xy/c, red card), John McAreavey, Paul Donegan (red card), Shannon Drainey (y/c), Conor McAnallen (Conor McKavanagh on 85), Niall Lavery,
Ronan O’Hara (y/c), David Ryan, Raymond Fitzpatrick (Brendan Mackin on 25), Aaron Haire. Sub not used: Michael Toland.
Ref: Mr Wesley Campbell (Augher).
City Win But At A Cost!
Armagh City 1 Lurgan Celtic 0