Championship round-up November 23
Round-up of action from Championship One & Two:
Ballyclare Comrades 5 Institute 1
The home side, hoping to put their Steel & Sons Cup disappointment behind them, hit the front in the ninth minute when prolific striker Chris Trussell stabbed the ball home from five yards.
The rest of the first half saw the visitors have the bulk of the possession, but Comrades created all the chances. They had already spurned some good opportunities to increase their lead, before they cemented their position with a two-goal blast before the interval. In the 42nd minute, Gerard McAlea got his head to an Andrew Simms corner to find the net from four yards out. Then, two minutes later, another Simms corner led to a goal when Daniel Smith knocked the ball home from close range after keeper Doherty had kept out a header from Chris Getty.
Comrades should have increased their lead in the second half before Institute got back in contention in the 69th minute, when Darren McFadden drilled a low shot into the net from 20 yards after his initial effort from a free kick had come back off the wall.
Two minutes later, the visitors’ hopes of a comeback took a serious knock when Darren McCauley received a straight red card after a comment he made to the linesman.
The home side put the result beyond doubt in the 83rd minute, when a superb move ended with Kyle Buckley smashing an unstoppable shot into the net from nine yards. They then rounded off a fine display with a fifth goal in the 87th minute, Chris Trussell shooting home from eight yards after being set up unselfishly by Andrew Simms.
Wakehurst 0 Lurgan Celtic 2
Lurgan Celtic are slowly but surely shaking off their calamitous start to this season’s league campaign and there certainly was plenty of confidence in their performance against Wakehurst at Mill Meadow, Castledawson.
Play was mainly confined to the middle third of the pitch during the initial 15 minutes, as both sides searched for an opening, with the result being that neither keeper was forced into action.
Seventeen minutes in, the visitors won their first corner and Wakehurst were made to pay, as when John Cochrane’s effort hit the upright, Steven McArdle was first to react, driving the rebound into the net through a ruck of players. Lurgan Celtic were content to allow Wakehurst possession until the final third where they defended in numbers to deny the home team any opportunities.
Raymond Fitzpatrick was a major player for the visitors in the opening 45 minutes and he was central to all that was positive in their game.
Two minutes into the second half, Lurgan Celtic almost doubled their lead when a shot from Sam Marshall took a wicked deflection off Ryan Gregg and it took an excellent reflex save from Macauley Cairns to divert the shot away from goal.
But the visitors had started the half much better and after the referee had initially allowed play to continue following a tug on McArdle, with no advantage accruing, he rightly awarded a free kick on the edge of the 18-yard area. Ronan O’Hara took charge of the dead ball and an obvious training ground routine was set in place and executed perfectly, McArdle’s flick-on found the impressive Fitzpatrick, who struck the ball high into the net, and the visitors had a two-goal lead after 50 minutes.
In a flurry of activity over the next 20 minutes, play was end to end.
Fitzpatrick’s solo run on the right took him into the 18-yard area and his shot flashed across Cairns but just wide of the far post. A minute later, Conor Gregg hit a great 20-yard shot that was well saved by Ciaran Fox. Back came Celtic and McArdle’s deep cross from the right found Marshall and his shot was just off-target.
Shane McCabe and Ronan O’Hara were then shown yellow cards for successive fouls on the Gregg brothers, Ryan and Conor.
A Chris Rodgers header was picked up by Jason Paul, but his shot on the turn was well blocked by Caolan Campbell at the expense of a corner and Paul Muir’s headed effort from the resultant corner was acrobatically tipped over the crossbar by Fox.
Conor Gregg’s shot on 70 minutes just shaved the crossbar and almost immediately Michael Toland raced clear on the left, but Cairns was quickly off his line to save.
Both teams introduced substitutes with 15 minutes remaining, Celtic replacing McArdle with Conor McAnallan and Wakehurst with a double substitution, Darren Parker and Ricky Culbertson replacing Andy Laughlin and Dougie Stevenson, as they searched for a way back into this game.
But it wasn’t to be, and the visitors almost stretched their lead to three, Muir on hand to clear from inside his six yard box, with four minutes remaining.
Fitzpatrick was the outstanding player on the park, his neat footwork, decisive passing, heading ability and work rate leading his team to a 2-0 victory.
Intermediate Cup Second Round
Annagh 2-2 Barn United (after extra time) Annagh won 4-2 on penalties
Barn United came out with plenty of praise for their battling performance in this Intermediate Cup tie which ended up being decided on penalties.
After just five minutes, visiting skipper Sharples took time in the box to pick his spot past Wright to give his side the early lead.
Gardiner headed into the arms of Brennan on eight minutes, but Barns’ chances were numerous after that, with Wright and Latimer both having to clear efforts off the line while Sharples again had two chances to increase the visitors’ lead. In the 35th minute, Acheson also had an effort cleared off the Barn line. Three minutes later, Jay Gardiner levelled the game with an individual effort and in the 43rd minute, he should have bagged a second but shot just over, while Acheson's free kick was cleared off the line by Mathers.
Ryan Murphy’s effort hit the upright just a minute into the second half and Wright was on his toes to thwart Lanneys effort.
In the 70th minute, Adam Nesbitt found himself one-on-one with Brennan but shot straight at the keeper. Jordan Bell dragged a shot just wide minutes later while Gardiner couldn’t find the touch to finish Matty Brown’s cross. The closing minutes saw a frantic effort from both sides to seal the win. Matty Brown couldn't capitalise on his one on one, Barns’ Andrew Kane put a 20-yard free kick straight at Wright and when Gardiner hit the bar with a minute remaining, Jordan Bell put the rebound wide and extra time beckoned.
Three minutes into injury time, Brown’s effort went over the bar and a minute later a cross from McCann was nodded in by Gregg Harrison to give Annagh the lead. The home side looked comfortable but with four minutes of extra time remaining, Andrew Kane found the net from 12 yards out, eventually enough to take his side to penalties.
Annagh went through 4-2 on the shoot-out via Allen, Gardiner, Brown and Acheson while Wright made two saves from Barn's spot kicks.
Belfast Telegraph Digital