Bitter sweet victory for depleted City
Thursday, 13 April 2017
ARMAGH City secured their second win of the split on Saturday afternoon at Knockramer Park against Lurgan Celtic.
LURGAN CELTIC ...0
ARMAGH CITY ...2
Marty Rice's side sealed only their second win since February 18, ironically their only other victory in the split came against last Saturday's opponents at Holm Park on Saturday, March 4.
The Holm Park side made the short trip to Lurgan on Saturday without the services of a number of key players.
Paul Carville and Ultan Lennon were both missing with hamstring injuries, while Conor Kerr was missing with a knee injury. Eamon Kelly was struggling with a calf injury and was not risked and Conor Mullan, Tiernan Rushe and Shea Campbell were all unavailable for selection.
However, against all the odds City secured an impressive 2-0 win against the managerless Lurgan outfit, but their victory was in all in vain as Knockbreda earned another victory, thus confirming City's place in the relegation/promotion play-off.
In an edgy first half, City dominated possession but failed to trouble the Lurgan Celtic goalkeeper in what was a timid first half.
The visitors did have a number of chances from set-pieces but couldn't apply the finishing touches and they went in at the interval all square.
Armagh City sprung into life in the second half and bossed the early stages of the second half.
With 60 minutes on the clock City's pressure finally paid off.
Sean Mallon, playing in the unfamiliar position of left back cut inside and played in Jasir Camara. Camara's well struck effort was pushed around the post by the home goalkeeper.
From the resultant corner, Johnny McSorley whipped in another fine delivery from a corner and ex-Lurgan Celtic centre half Stephen Hutchinson was on hand to power home inside the area and give City the lead.
Five minutes later City doubled their advantage.
Matthew Hynds found himself with time and space on the edge of the box and the ball fell nicely for him to fire a volley into the net despite the goalkeeper getting a strong hand to it.
City were rarely troubled in the closing stages of the tie and Lurgan Celtic only managed to create one decent opportunity from a free-kick.
However, John Connolly was equal to Josh Barton's well-struck free-kick and City were able to record a rare clean sheet and a morale boosting victory ahead of what is likely to be one of most important few weeks in the history of the club.
Speaking after the game, City manager Marty Rice admitted they have already started preparing for their crucial play-off clash.
“After the Annagh United draw at home we sat down and said everything we do now must be geared towards ensuring we are ready for those two play-off games.
“On Saturday we were missing a number of key players, but the likes of Ben Rice, Johnny McSorley, Matty Hynds and Thai Blevins all stepped up and performed well.
“We were missing Conor Mullan, but Gary Boyle and Jasir Camara led the line well.
“The next few weeks is going to be one of the most important periods in the club's history.
“We have two massive games coming up and they are two cup finals for us.
“Over our next two games we will be looking to build some momentum ahead of those two games."
City team - John Connolly, Dale Montgomery, Eoin Toal, Sean Mallon, Stephen Hutchinson, Ben Rice, Johnny McSorley, Matthew Hynds, Thai Blevins, Jasir Camara and Gary Boyle.
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