McSorley at the double to crush Comrades

Thursday, 16 February 2017

EVERY now and again there comes an occasion which lives long in the memory of a football supporter.


For those who follow the fortunes of Armagh City there came such a time, just after a quarter past four last Saturday when what looked like a fairly routine game against Ballyclare Comrades suddenly burst into life with City breaching the visitors' defence three times in five astonishing minutes.

At the kick off this didn't look like a likely home win, City were in the bottom two and Ballyclare Comrades in the top two, City had won one league game in three months (and that was against the bottom club) and were without Irish Cup heroes Paul Carvill, Eoin Toal, Eamon Kelly and for the first time in the league this season, Sean Mallon.

In the first half the Comrades played with the wind and had slightly the better of the play. John Connolly held a shot from Taggart, the normally dangerous Trussell put a chance over the bar and the skilful Brown had a good cross cleared by debutant Steven Hutchinson, newly signed from Lurgan Celtic.

At the other end Flood saved comfortably from an Ultan Lennon header and then Conor Mullen shot but the nearest either side came to scoring was in the 29th minute when Johnston floated in a free kick which Trussell seemed to meet perfectly but as the ball seemed to be dropping into the top corner of the net Connolly got across and turned the ball on to the top of the crossbar and away for a corner.

After a first half of few chances Connolly (the only player to play in all 22 league games) was tested only once in the first fifteen minutes of the second - a left wing cross was headed strongly by winger Brown but the City goalkeeper was equal to it.

A minute later he did well to hold a cross from Trussell and even into the wind Comrades were at least as good as their hosts.

Then suddenly came a memorable goal.

With 62 minutes played a cross by Tiarnan Rushe was headed out of the penalty area but the ball was met perfectly by Johnny McSorley who volleyed the ball into the top corner for a 1-0 lead. After 64 minutes McSorley tried a long shot over Flood's head but the goalkeeper got across well and turned the ball away for a corner. The corner was cleared but as City came forward again in the 65th minute McSorley sent a low shot to the corner of the net and City were 2-0 in front.

After 67 minutes a right wing cross was deflected to Thai Blevins and amazingly City were three up in a game which hadn't looked likely to produce any goals.

From the opposition perspective their twitter page at that moment read 'Dreadful 5 minutes for Comrades and suddenly out of nothing the home side look like scoring with every attack'.

It could have got even better when the hard working Conor Mullen made a good break with Blevins but the final shot flew inches wide.

Predictably Ballyclare were not going to lie down and within the next three minutes won three corners.

The first two were almost identical with O'Hanlon sending over two in-swinging corners which were powerfully headed goal-wards but in each case Shea Campbell headed the ball over the bar for another corner and the third one was cleared.

Comrades put on a lot of pressure although City had one breakaway which saw Flood make a terrific save from Mullen.

City brought on three young substitutes as the team continued to defend well. Lynch had a good chance in stoppage time but scuffed his shot and Trussell could only find the side netting and eventually in the 93rd minute Adam Gray had a further chance and this time he made no mistake.

That completed a fine victory which leaves Armagh City only three points below safety at the end of two rounds of matches.

The league now continues with home and away games against the other five teams in the lower half of the table, starting with Annagh United at Holm Park on Saturday (3pm).

ARMAGH CITY: John Connolly, Dale Montgomery, Shea Campbell, Ultan Lennon, Stephen Hutchinson, Luke Grimley, Matthew Hynds (Conor Kerr 88), Johnny McSorley, Conor Mullen, Thai Blevins (Robbie McQuade 89), Tiarnan Rushe (yc86)(Ben Rice 86)

BALLYCLARE COMRADES: Paddy Flood, Owen Thompson (Adam McCart 71), Adam Gray, Corey McMullen, Jason Johnston, Dean Youle, Gary Brown, John Dobbin, Chris Trussel, Michael O'Hanlon, Denver Taggart (Kevin Lynch 62).

Referee: Tony Clarke, Belfast


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