Loughgall 0 – 1 Lurgan Celtic

A much-disputed penalty decision by referee Damien Basketfield was the difference between the sides in a fairly even contest at Lakeview Park. Basketfield adjudged Gary Henderson to have fouled Celtic forward Aaron Haire with his sliding challenge, with 12 minutes remaining, much to the disbelief of the entire Loughgall side and fans who were vociferous in protest.

Celtic’s winger Chris Lavery, who was an exceptional threat throughout the game, took the opportunity to fire home the winner from the penalty spot.

Loughgall brought captain Steven Ferguson back into the side at the expense of Wes Boyle, in an otherwise unchanged line-up from last Saturday’s draw at Ballyclare Comrades.

The hosts started strongly and came close in the opening ten minutes with long-range efforts; Henderson saw his 25-yard effort, which swayed a lot in the air, well parried by Celtic ‘keeper Conor McCorry. Then Steven Ferguson narrowly shot wide from a similar distance although McCorry looked to have had his angles covered.

Loughgall had a great chance in the 12th minute when Matthew McMahon, racing down the right wing, pulled the ball back for striker Warner Mullen to shoot just over the crossbar when well placed.

The visitors were denied by Ferguson’s goalline clearance after Chris Lavery’s excellent wing play and cross was creeping inside the far post on 17 minutes.

Celtic went close just after the hour mark when Chris Lavery controlled the ball before firing an effort narrowly past the post under little pressure outside the penalty area.

McCorry was called into action for the Lurgan side on 68 minutes to deny McMahon’s goalbound effort after great forward play by Mullen.

The game was decided on the penalty decision; and afterwards Loughgall pressed to find a way through however they lacked a cutting edge.

Loughgall: Buchanan, Taveres (Uprichard 84m), Mallen, Hudson, Copeland, Henderson, Ferguson (Wilson 88m), Dane (Greenaway 84m), Mullen, McMahon, Rea.

Lurgan Celtic: McCorry, McVeigh, A Rodgers, Hutchinson, McCabe, Rooney, Doyle (J Rodgers 84m), N Lavery (O’Hara 45m), Haire, Barton, C Lavery. Unused subs: McCann, Patterson.

Referee: D Basketfield.
Assistant referees: S Corrigan, A Nethery.