City Win At Their ‘Leisure’

 Armagh City 7 Sport and Leisure Swifts 2
ARMAGH City cruised to their biggest league win of the season on Saturday when they slammed seven goals past Sport and Leisure Swifts at Holm Park.
This victory ensures the local side maintain second spot in the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two and strengthen their promotion aspirations.
City, in fact, began the match slowly and created their first clear-cut chance on 10 minutes when new signing Philip Donnelly – making his debut for Armagh – was denied the opener by the outstretched Swifts’ ‘keeper,Sean Smiley, who diverted his volley for a corner.
The west Belfast side were being hemmed in their own half at this stage but did rally on 15 minutes and created some pressure from a series of corners which the City defence had trouble clearing.
But City weathered this mini-storm and then took the game by the scruff of the neck.
They deservedly opened their account on 26 minutes when a free-kick awarded inside the penalty box was squared to Matthew Hynds and he drove the ball into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
Four minutes later Armagh made it 2-0 when a fantastic intervention tackle and first-time through pass fron Dara Noonan found striker Stephen Murray who drilled a superb 10-yard shot past the dispairing Smiley.
On 34 minutes City made sure of taking the spoils when an inch-perfect left-wing cross from Paul Carville was headed goalwards by Hynds. On this occasion the impressive Smiley failed to make a reasonably easy save.
Half-time: Armagh City 3 Sport and Leisure Swifts 0.
After the break play continued in the same vein, with Sports and Leisure constantly on the back-foot, as City cleverly set up counter-attack after counter-attack.
And, on 57 minutes, Murray made them pay with a clever chip over the advancing Smiley after superb approach work from Donnelly.
Three minutes later the Swifts launched a rare attack and sub Padraig McCrory brought out a fine diving save from Armagh ‘keeper Sean Morgan.
But Armagh were soon back in the groove and they added their fifth goal on 67 minutes when a through ball from Hynds found Murray who slid a low shot past Smiley to complete a fantastic hat-trick.
The visitors managed to save face when, in the 70th minute, Darren Gallagher unleashed a tremendous shot which gave Morgan no chance.
But Armagh soon extended their lead once again when Gareth Grimley skipped past his marker and cut into the Swifts’ box. His pass along the goal-line was met at the back-post by Adam Nesbitt who easily tapped the ball home.
With 10 minutes remaining City claimed their seventh score when Nesbitt set up Dale Montgomery on the right. He cut inside and hit a superb curling shot over the dispairing Smiley.
However, the Belfast visitors – who never gave up throughout – had the last word when they added another consolation score with three minutes remaining. Gallagher was again their marksman when he shrugged off the attentions of two City defenders before beating Morgan to the ball.
This was a day when every Armagh player give their all in a very entertaining encounter. But star-of-the-show was Murray for completing a superb hat-trick.
This Saturday, January 19, City make the short journey to Portadown where they take on Annagh United in a Championship Two fixture. This match is scheduled to kick-off at the earlier time of 2pm.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Ultan Lennon (Johnny Walker on 67), Dara Noonan, Gavin Cusack, Matthew Hynds (y/c), Liam Cullen (Gareth Grimley on 60), Stephen Murray, Philip Donnelly (Adam Nesbitt on 70), Paul Carville. Sub not used: James Nesbitt.
Sport and Leisure Swifts: Sean Smiley, Michael McMullan, Jim O’Neill (Ryan Caddell on 67), Stephen Tully, Gerard Morris, Pierce Tully (y/c), James Daly (y/c), John Dornan (Padraig McCrory on 45), Neil Corr (Steven McDonnell on 57), Darren Gallagher, John Brady.

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