Sports

Last gasp Villagers take derby spoils

Thursday, 29 December 2016

AN injury time winner from John Uprichard helped Loughgall to claim a morale-boosting victory in the Boxing Day derby against Armagh City at Holm Park.

ARMAGH CITY ...2
LOUGHGALL ...3

Marty Rice's City side had pegged Loughgall back on two separate occasions, but Uprichard's strike deep into stoppage time enabled to Villagers to claim a massive win in their bid to move away from the relegation zone.

Defeat for City leaves them sitting five points adrift in 11th place in the NIFL Championship, but they do have a game in hand over their derby rivals, who sit in 9th place.

It was the home side that dominated the early stages of the first half and the in-form Conor Mullan had the first major chance of the game.

He saw his strike pushed on to the post by Gareth Buchanan in the Loughgall goal as Marty Rice's side tried to stamp their authority on the tie early on.

Shea McGerrigan should have given City the lead when he raced through after a swift counter-attack.

However, he snatched at his strike and the Villagers breathed a huge sigh of relief.

City's missed opportunities soon came back to haunt them when Loughgall scored the first goal of the game.

Some poor defending by the City rearguard allowed Peter Campbell to cross from the left hand side and Jack Upritchard was on hand to volley home at the back post.

City responded well to going behind and Ultan Lennon almost gave them the perfect the response, but he headed straight at Buchanan from Carville's pinpoint free-kick delivery.

However, just as it looked like the visitors were going to go in at the break ahead, City finally found a breakthrough.

Great work down the right hand side by the hard-working Conor Mullan saw the former Dungannon Swifts youngster cross to the onrushing Shea McGerrigan and he made no mistake from close range.

Just when it looked like City had finally got to grips with Loughgall, the visitors took the lead just minutes after the interval.

City failed to clear their lines and Marcus Dallas pounced on the loose ball and fired past the helpless Connolly to give the Villagers the lead once again.

Going behind for the second time seemed to spur Marty Rice's side into action once again and they almost responded in the best possible fashion.

The impressive Mullan cut in from the left hand side and unleashed a thunderbolt of an effort, but he saw his strike hammer off the crossbar and Loughgall cleared their lines.

The bar came to the rescue of the visitors once again just moments later. Buchanan had to be on his toes to tip Bell's 25-yard strike on to the bar as City began to pile on the pressure.

Marty Rice then made three substitutions, as Dara Noonan and Eamon Kelly made a welcome return to the City starting eleven and attacker Shea Campbell entered the fray.

And it was Campbell that soon had Armagh City back on level terms. Conor Mullan crossed with pinpoint precision and Campbell nodded home past Buchanan to make it 2-2.

However, just when it looked like both sides were about to claim a share of the spoils, John Uprichard reacted quickest inside the area after a set-piece to score the fifth and decisive goal of the game to hand Loughgall a massive Boxing Day win.

It was a killer blow for City who had managed to peg back their fierce rivals on two separate occasions.

Marty Rice's side know that they need to bounce back on New Year's Eve, when they welcome PSNI to Holm Park for a 3pm kick off.

Victory for Loughgall has opened up a five point gap between them and City in 11th place and they will look to continue their push away from the relegation zone with a win at home against Harland and Wolff Welders on Friday night (December 30).

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