Annagh United 3
Armagh City 0
A depleted Armagh City side travelled to Portadown on Saturday, hoping to get back to winning ways against the Championship’s bottom side, Annagh United.
Missing several regulars, including Philip Donnelly, Ciaran Murray, Eoin Toal and Shea McGerrigan, Marty Rice drafted Paul Carvill and Johnny McSorley into the starting lineup, while Shea Campbell led the line against his former team.
In a nervy opening 10 minutes, captain John Connolly had to be alert from free-kicks by Christian Stewart and Johnny McClurg, but neither really threatened the City keeper.
The visitors had their first attempt on goal when Jordan Bell found some space 25 yards from goal, but his effort went harmlessly wide.
Annagh took the lead on 18 minutes when Jake Richardson broke down the right and fired a dangerous low cross into the City box which Dara Noonan could only turn into the top corner past the helpless Connolly.
City responded with Andrew Hoey firing in an effort from 20 yards which Eoin Hughes saved comfortably, before Campbell had a golden chance to equalise from McSorley’s whipped free-kick but he couldn’t hit the target from close range. Bell then broke past two men before firing in another long range effort that failed to find the target.
Just as it seemed like City were getting on top of the play they were reduced to 10 men in odd circumstances. With Campbell standing nearby as he prepared to kick the ball downfield, Annagh keeper Hughes mis-hit the ball weakly along the ground towards midfield. Referee Shane Andrews awarded a free-kick, seemingly against Campbell for obstruction, and in the disputes that followed Andrew Hoey received two yellows in quick succession for dissent and City were forced to play the remaining 49 minutes a man short.
After the break City came out with a renewed purpose and dominated possession for long spells. McSorley had an early attempt on goal, but his lob again failed to test former City youth player Hughes in the Annagh goal.
The home side responded with a pair of efforts of their own on the hour mark as James Taylor scooped over the bar with Connolly rushing out to close the angle, before the City keeper was again called into action, getting down sharply to deny Richardson.
Another set-piece, this time from the left by Carvill, offered McSorley another chance to level the scores but his header just crept past the post.
City were chasing the game as the half wore on, and were dealt a knock-out blow on 75 minutes when Dara Noonan slipped on the right wing as Armagh looked to play out from the back, allowing Annagh manager, and former City striker, Dean Smith to centre the ball for Richardson who couldn’t miss from close range.
A lovely move on the left saw Sean Mallon fashion an opportunity for himself from 20 yards as City looked to respond immediately, but his effort was comfortably collected by Hughes.
Annagh added insult to injury with 88 minutes on the clock as Stephen Park burst down the right-hand side before firing a fierce shot into the bottom corner to give Connolly no chance.
A bad day at the office for Marty Rice’s side, who will no doubt have been hoping to bring home three much needed points against an Annagh team that had struggled in recent weeks.
City will be desperate to get their back to full-strength in terms of their playing squad, and will need to find the form that had them sitting top of the league just a few week ago. The Eagles will need to regroup quickly ahead of Wednesday night’s League Cup clash against Carrick Rangers, who visit Holm Park for a 7.45pm kick-off.
Armagh City: John Connolly, Dale Montgomery, Paul Carvill, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan, Eamon Kelly, Andrew Hoey, Sean Mallon, Shea Campbell (Jamie Quigley, 65 mins), Jordan Bell, Johnny McSorley (Luke Grimley, 80 mins). Subs not used: Connor Murtagh, Josh McCarten, Ernestus Verenka.