Belfast Telegraph

Belfast Telegraph Championship round-up, December 20

All the latest from Championship One and Two clubs:

Championship One

 

Armagh City 1 Loughgall 0

There was no quarter asked for, nor given in this Belfast Telegraph Championship One derby match at Holm Park.

Both teams went for the jugular from the outset and several early feisty tackles set the pattern for a full-blooded, no nonsense affair.

Loughgall had the best initial chance when Daniel Brown blasted wide from 10 yards, while City were denied an opener almost immediately when hesitation by Stephen Murray meant a great chance went a-begging.

On 21 minutes, Armagh had superb back-to-back chances when Paul Carvill's rasping 20-yard shot was tipped over the crossbar and then central defender Ultan Lennon headed just wide from the resultant corner kick.

Then a brilliant cross from the left by City's Philip Donnelly just eluded their in-rushing captain Liam Cullen, who flicked the ball wide when a goal looked on.

Loughgall weathered this storm, however, and just before the break, almost opened the scoring themselves but a powerful shot from Marcus Dallas was brilliantly diverted around the upright by Armagh's outstretched keeper Sean Morgan.

Armagh launched an early attack after the break and Lennon headed just over from six yards after another decisive set-piece from the Holm Park outfit.

City were now taking control and, on 50 minutes, Murray blasted the ball over the Loughgall crossbar from close range.

But, just a minute later, they did take a deserved lead when Dara Noonan won the ball from a corner and headed back across goal where Murray popped up to apply the finishing touch at the near post.

City then almost capitalised with a carbon-copy move but, on this occasion, Noonan's dangerous effort at the back post was cleared.

As time was running out, Loughgall threw caution to the wind and almost equalised on the stroke of full time but, to City's delight, the final shot was just wide.

A competitive match, Armagh were delighted with the three points against their arch rivals, but the Villagers can earn early compensation when they contest the Bob Radcliffe Cup final at Lakeview Park on Boxing Day morning.

 

Championship Two

 

Lurgan Celtic 2 Ballymoney United 0

Celtic increased their lead at the top of the table with a tight win over bottom club Ballymoney United.

The visitors started the brighter, with the home side looking a little off the pace. Indeed, in the opening half hour, the Hoops cleared the ball off their goal-line twice as Ballymoney put pressure on the home defence.

Celtic captain Raymond Fitzpatrick missed an easy header to put his side ahead, and seconds later, was unlucky when he hit a blistering shot on the turn which sailed inches wide. Ballymoney were dominating the midfield area but close to the interval Chris Lavery drew a fine save from the visitors' keeper to keep the game score-less at half time.

Conor Hagan and Niall Lavery replaced Jason Rodgers and Colm Rooney at the interval and the home side began to get on top. Chris Lavery opened the scoring after good play from Declan McVeigh and Daniel Ryan set him up to score with his weaker right foot from 12 yards.

Niall Lavery’s passing prowess was causing problems for the visitors and Aaron Haire, who had come on to join the fray, had an effort blocked. Chris Lavery doubled the lead when he ghosted through the defence to score but he missed out on his hat-trick from the penalty spot, after Ryan was tripped in the area, blazing the ball over the crossbar.                                                            

Celtic deserved the win, but Ballymoney belied their lowly position and played their part in a competitive game.

 

Annagh United 4 Dollingstown 3

Seven goals in all, three in three minutes, half time handbags, two red cards... the only thing missing was a partridge in a pear tree! Just a typical day at the festive Mid Ulster derby between Annagh and Dollingstown.

It took just nine minutes for Annagh to open the scoring, when Shea Campbell scored from a corner. Five minutes later, Clydesdale could have levelled but pulled his effort just wide of the post.

After 20 minutes, McCann came on for the injured Matty Brown and Donaghy had a good chance on 24 minutes but scuffed wide.

Just after the half hour, sub McCann put McCordick through one-on-one and he beat Fletcher in goal to put Annagh 2-0 ahead. The visitors immediately took the centre and attacked the Annagh goal pulling a goal back through Gibson.

No less than a minute later Annagh made it three goals in three minutes when McCann’s effort was parried by Fletcher and Campbell was on hand to head in for his brace. On 35 minutes, Thompson headed just wide from a nice cross from the lively Walker.

Just five minutes were left before the half time whistle when McCordick’s in swinging corner was only half cleared by the Dollingstown defence and skipper Richie Allen popped up at the back post looping his header over Fletcher.

After coach Andy Hamilton saw red for a half time altercation, Dollingstown made a hasty start, and with just 47 minutes on the clock, a neat move finished in a cross which evaded the Annagh back four but not Thompson who made it 4-2 with a vital early goal.

Annagh's first chance of note in the second half came on 68 minutes, when Shea Campbell turned inside Redpath and his drive was tipped over by Fletcher. On 75 minutes, Thompson again dragged an effort wide of Fox's post but made no mistake three minutes later as he scored to give Dollingstown the slightest hope of a comeback.

A minute later on the 80 minute mark, McCann hit the post from an effort out wide and as Dollingstown attacked, they were reduced to 10 men when scorer Jordan Gibson saw red for a two-footed lunge.

Annagh, though, managed to see out the remaining minutes of the game to secure the three points and a victory over the visitors for the first time in Championship Two.

 

Tobermore United 1 Glebe Rangers 2

Tobermore started the game really well and within the first minute Donaldson's headed corner went over the bar. A minute later, a cross from Duffin was half-cleared and a Keane shot went just wide. The pressure from Tobermore continued and Duffin was getting a lot of joy down the right side.

In the 12th minute, it looked like Tobermore had opened the scoring after a scramble in the Glebe box, but again, Glebe managed to clear. A minute later, a great strike from Duffin came back off the post.

Glebe settled after a whirlwind 15 minutes and got a corner which was well blocked by the Tobermore defence, going out for another corner. The visitors took the lead from the corner, when Wells came to claim but just got a finger to it.

Tobermore kept pressing and creating chances and on 37 minutes, they were left wondering how they didn't equalise, after having three shots all blocked and half-cleared.

The second half started much the same. A great ball over the top of the defence had Parkhill through but the Glebe keeper came out to claim well.

With 30 still to play, Tobermore went down to 10 men after Andy Neill received a second yellow. Tobermore still managed to get an equaliser in the 68th minute, however, after a mistake between the Glebe keeper and a defender lead to an own goal.

The sides weren't level for long, as four minutes later, the visitors again took the lead and again, it was from a corner.

A minute later, Tobermore were on the attack again, as Winton sprinted through to be brought down on the edge of the box. There were several more chances for Tobermore but again a combination of poor finishing and good defending gave Glebe the three points.

 

Intermediate Cup 3rd round

 

Banbridge Town 2 Albert Foundry 1

Northern Ireland Amateur League Premier side, Albert Foundry (unbeaten to date in their league) travelled confidently to Crystal Park to meet the challenge of an inconsistent Banbridge Town who were anxious to extend their "cup" season into 2015.

Foundry could have gone ahead in their first attack when a tantalising cross from Doyle was headed over by Mitchell, who was unmarked in front of goal. The visitors were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position soon after, but wasted the chance with an effort that floated aimlessly over.

Their early pressure was rewarded on nine minutes with a goal from centre back Burns who poked the ball home in a crowded goalmouth after Town keeper James McConville failed to punch clear following a left wing cross. However, the keeper redeemed himself with a great stop from Doyle after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later, he came to Banbridge's rescue with a smart double save from Bloomer after initially pushing the centre forward's shot onto the bar. Town were now warming to the task ahead of them and Conor Downey fired a 20-yard drive straight at ex-Banbridge Town custodian "Sprite" Cairnduff in the visitor’s goal after a good pass from Ryan Gourley.

Town were now exerting the pressure with Mattie McCartan, Ally Wilson and Ryan Gourley dominating the midfield with penetrating runs. Conor Downey headed over from a Gourley right wing cross on 33 minutes and David Gray on the other wing shot across goal after 41 minutes and inches past.

One minute later, a bullet-like header from Ally Wilson deserved a goal but scraped the paint-work as it went the wrong side of the post. The equaliser Banbridge deserved came one minute from the break when Conor Downey bent a 22-yard free kick on the edge of the box well out of Cairnduff's reach and into the corner of the net.

It was a great recovery from Town after a horror opening quarter and after 47 minutes, Mattie McCartan fired agonisingly over following another blistering run from the busy Ryan Gourley. Conor Downey fired low and hard across goal but none of his colleagues could reach the ball and it was cleared by the Foundry rear-guard.

The visitors were still very much in the game and on 56 minutes, Mitchell was not far away when he met a cross from his full back Hill. Ally Wilson could have put Town ahead two minutes later with a free header from a Ryan Gourley pin-point cross but was off target when well placed.

However, the Banbridge fight-back was complete on 62 minutes, when Conor Downey raced behind the visitors to plant his shot into the corner, much to the delight of the home support.

Foundry fought hard and Doyle was close following a 67th minute corner. The visitors exerted some pressure as they searched for an equaliser and Mitchell shot wide after 85 minutes.

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