Armagh City 2 PSNI 1
ARMAGH City brought the unbeaten run of the PSNI to a screeching halt in a classic encounter at Holm Park last Tuesday night.
And, as a result, the local outfit moved to the top of the Belfast Telegraph Championship Two!
City have won four and drawn one of their opening five games and, along with Portstewart, remain the only teams not to suffer a league defeat this season.
Armagh opened up against the police in impressive style, playing fast, flowing and attractive football.
They deservedly took the lead on 13 minutes following a free-flowing two-man move.
Dale Montgomery picked the ball up just inside the PSNI half and pushed forward before hitting a defence-splitting pass into the path of Matthew Hynds who drilled home a low shot wide of outstretched ‘keeper Keith Wilson.
On 20 minutes City went close again when centre-back Dara Noonan flashed a headed just wide and, moments later, Eamon Kelly was unlucky when his well placed headed effort was superbly saved by the alert Wilson.
Fifteen minutes later Kevin Keegan almost made it 2-0 for Armagh when he drifted in from the left and unleashed a 20-yard effort which just flew over the PSNI crossbar.
The experienced visitors, however, weathered this storm and began to make inroads themselves through the efforts of the lively Ashton McDermott and the dangerous Peter Steele.
And the were given a real life-line five minutes before the break.
A through ball found its way to City ‘keeper Sean Morgan who had time and space to clear from 25-yards out. But, instead of blasting the ball to safety, the big stopper tried to chip it forward to one of his own players and only succeeded in finding McDermott. He instantly drove the ball forward from 35-yards and found the empty net.
Half-time: Armagh City 1 PSNI 1.
Any disappointment the Armagh players felt was quickly put to bed and they came out firing on all cylinders after the interval.
They had a great early chance when Keegan was sent on his way by Ryan McGerrigan and his cross into the box was agonisingly dragged wide by Murray from a yard out!
But on the hour mark the same combination were rewarded for their tremendous efforts. This time the big striker finished with aplomb from five yards out despite being under considerable pressure.
The police did try to claw their way back into the match, with Steele and Tyson Gray firing in rasping shots which were superbly dealth with by Morgan, who more than made amends for his earlier lapse. In fact, throughout he made four great saves to deny the opposition.
But it was City who could easily have wrapped up proceedings with further scores.
On 78 minutes sub Philip Donnelly – back after long-term injury – fired in a tremendous shot but Wilson pulled off a brilliant save low down to his left.
And, just before the final whistle, Gray came to his team’s aid to deny the rampant City outfit. Goalkeeper Wilson had come up for a late PSNI corner but the ball was cleared towards their net by sub Gareth Grimley. As the ball ran goalwards Gray ran 50-yards to clear with Murray literally breathing down his neck!
A superb match and the right outcome. Armagh were inspired and any of the starting 11 could have picked up the man-of-the-match award.
The only downside was the awarding of seven yellow cards during the match in which there was barely a bad tackle. No doubt, this will come back to haunt both teams as the season progresses.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Luke Grimley, Ryan McGerrigan, Ultan Lennon (Gareth Grimley on 76), Dara Noonan (y/c), Eamon Kelly (y/c), Dale Montgomery, Liam Cullen, Stephen Murray, Matthew Hynds (Philip Donnelly, (y/c), on 65), Kevin Keegan. Subs DNP: Sean Mallon, Micky Toland, Davie Rowney.
PSNI: Keith Wilson, Tyson Gray (y/c), Simon Robb, Noel Anderson, Shane Brennan, Ryan Berry (y/c), Joe McWilliams, Colm Kirgan (y/c), Peter Steele, Lukasz Adamczyk (y/c), (Nathan Holden at 55), Ashton McDermott (Stephen Leitch on 65). Subs DNP: Stephen Lawson, Mark Anderson, Matthew Quinn.
Ref: Mr Wesley Campbell (Augher).