Armagh City 1 PSNI 3
Armagh City failed to overcome a strong and slick PSNI side in the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two on Saturday. The Holm Park outfit were beaten 3-1 and can once again blame a number of missed goalscoring chances for this reverse.
City began the match brilliantly and, in the opening 10 minutes, laid seige to the PSNI goals. Stephen Murray fired his opening effort just over the PSNI crossbar on two minutes and then Gavin Cusack had a shot pushed around an upright by visiting ‘keeper Keith Wilson. From the follow-up corner Cusack headed just over the the top and, moments later, Murray pulled a superb save out of Wilson who parried his close-range shot to safety. Philip Donnelly then had another golden opportunity for the home outfit but his fierce snap-shot was again thwarted by the PSNI stopper.
City, however, were all at sea on 20 minutes and allowed the police outfit to take control and score the opener. Three attempts to clear the ball out of the Armagh six-yard box went abegging and the impressive Peter Steele took full advantage to hit an overhead kick into the corner of the net.
Following this score it was all one-way traffic as City lost their shape and allowed the opposition to control midfield and mount a series of attacks on the under-pressure home team’s back-four.
On 28 minutes a quick free-kick from the visitors again opened up the local team’s defence and PSNI defender Noel Anderson was unlucky to see his powerful back-post header flash just wide. But Armagh survived unscathed until the interval and were in good position to get back on level terms after the break.
However, their renewed enthusiasm suffered another serious setback on 51 minutes. Once again City were guilty of failing to clear the ball out off the danger area following a corner and, when it fell to former Loughgall star Lukas Adamczyk, he slammed a close-range shot into the net in style.
The match looked done and dusted after this score but then Armagh staged a brave fightback which almost brought them a share of the spoils.
They reduced the arrears to 2-1 on the hour mark when Donnelly drifted into the box and drilled home a low shot past Wilson following a cross from the right. Then Shea McGerrigan broke from the left and fired in a goalbound shot which was somehow hooked narrowly over the crossbar by a PSNI defender from just a yard out!
On a rare raid forward City central defender Ultan Lennon just failed to get onto the end of a chipped pass into the opposition six-yard box as the police outfit were forced to defend desperately. But, just when ot looked as if Armagh could get something out of the game, they were hit by a sucker-punch. For, on 89 minutes, the PSNI got forward and won a corner. The ball was floated into the box and sub Graeme Arthur was first to react, heading home his team’s third. This left City with no time to respond as they tasted back-to-back home defeats.
In the end the visitors just about deserved the win but Armagh will need to learn quickly if they are to keep their bid for promotion on track this season.
Certainly, more of their chances need to be converted and the habit of drifting in and out of matches addressed. City have a ‘must win’ match this Saturday, February 9, when they welcome Glebe Rangers to Holm Park, kick-off 3pm.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Paul Carville, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan, Eamon Kelly (Barry Quinn on 65), Matthew Hynds (Johnny Walker on 85), Gavin Cusack, Stephen Murray, Philip Donnelly, Shea McGerrigan. Subs DNP: John Daly, Ryan McGerrigan, Philip McBirney.
PSNI: Keith Wilson, Gary Brown (Taylor Kirk on 62), Simon Robb (y/c), Scott McCrory, Shane Brennan, Noel Anderson, Mark Picking (Peter Marks on 73), John-Brendan Dobbin, Lukas Adamczyk (Graeme Arthur on 83), Peter Steele, Ryan Berry.
Ref: Raymond Heatherington (Dungannon).