City win four in a row.

Thursday, 11 January 2018

ARMAGH City took three points for the fourth successive game at Holm Park on Saturday thanks to a late goal by Stefan McKenna.

Armagh City..1
Donegal Celtic..0

The afternoon began on a sombre note with a minute's silence as this was the first home game since the death of former club captain and chairman John Poland.

Described by the late John Steenson as the finest player ever to wear the club's colours, John Poland's playing career straddled the final Mid-Ulster League years and the early seasons as a member of the Irish League four decades a go.

City started Saturday's game with two changes from the week before, with Edilson Tavares being preferred to Thai Blevins while the unavailability of Caio Lobo meant that Manager Joe Kerr had to turn to new signing Conor McAnallen.

City made a great start to the game and a fine strike by Stefan McKenna seemed bound for the top corner of the net but goalkeeper Sean McIlhone got across to make a splendid save. Donegal Celtic settled after that early scare and it was fully ten minutes before City had another chance, this time when a corner fell to Nedas Maciulaitis whose shot was tipped over by McIlhone.

City had a good spell after that and two visiting players were booked and McIlhone made two competent saves but Celtic looked dangerous in a breakaway until a great tackle by Ultan Lennon got the ball away for a corner.

Former City forward Ciaran Murray showed that both sides of his game had remained unchanged but making a vociferous protest about the award of a corner instead of a free kick and then sending in a good shot after Danny Devine had dealt well with the corner under pressure. Devine made a good save from Murray and then did well to hold a cross from Glenholmes.

His long clearance found McKenna who shot just wide as the half ended scoreless.

As at the start of the match City attacked within seconds of the kick off for the second half and McIlhone made a fine save from Maciulaitis.

City played some good football for a time and a great run by Maciulaitis set up Keegan but McIlhone dealt well with his shot and the consequent corner. The offside whistle ended two Celtic attacks as the visitors started to get back into the game. Shannon put Glenholmes through one on one but Devine was well out to maintain his clean sheet.

A Dan Wilson shot took a deflection and Devine did well to hold the spinning ball and with Lennon and Grimley clearing a lot of pressure it began to look as though City could take a point from a physically stronger Belfast side.

In the closing minutes City began to come back into the game and McIlhone was tested by a dangerous cross from Courtney. After 77 minutes McKenna went on a dangerous run and played a great ball wide to Maciulaitis who beat his marker and pulled the ball back to Stefan McKenna who slammed the ball into the net to score his first goal since September and City were in front.

Substitute Blevins sent a good shot just wide and fellow sub Taylor Huston, top scorer in the reserves, worked hard on his league debut.

Celtic battled to get back into the game and a shot hit a City defender on the line while Hynds did well to block their final attempt on goal.

This was a fourth successive win for Armagh City and with a vital Intermediate Cup game against Queen's University less than two weeks away - not only the most important competition for any intermediate club but even more so with the prospect of a final at Windsor Park.

The team is coming into form at the right time and with half the initial 22 games completed the recent successful run has lifted the team into fifth place.

Armagh City: Danny Devine, Conor Kerr, Daniel Courtney, Ultan Lennon, Luke Grimley, Conor McAnallen, Edilson Tavares, Padraig Judge, Nedas Maciulaitis, Stefan McKenna, Jake Keegan

Subs: Thai Blevins 46 for Tavares, Taylor Huston 80 for Maciulaitis, Matthew Hynds, 81 for Keegan

Donegal Celtic: Sean McIlhone, Kevin Farrelly, Michael McClory, Mark Burns, Daniel Wilson, Elliot McKim, Matthew Robinson, Brendan Shannon, Pardaig Hughes, Ciaran Murray, Conor Glenholmes

Sub: Sean Duffy 67 for McKim

Referee: Ben McMaster


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