Holders Loughgall made the best possible start to their Championship title defence with an assured 4 – 0 home victory over Ballyclare Comrades.
Manager Niall Currie gave debuts to new signings Chris Kingsberry and Shea McGerrigan on either flank, while Dean Smith was paired upfront with Paul McDowell after re-signing. Fellow new signings Stephen McCain and Glen Clarke were on the substitutes bench, while Liam Cullen and Neil Alderdice were missing through suspension.
Dean Smith almost made an immediate impact after four minutes when Davy Hawthorne rounded ‘keeper Paddy Flood before squaring to Smith who was thwarted from excellent defensive blocks twice from close range.
An excellent passing move on 14 minutes resulted in Hawthorne slipping a ball through to Kingsberry inside the penalty area. The winger sidestepped a challenge but couldn’t keep his effort on target blasting just over the crossbar.
The opening goal came in the 18th minute when Dean Smith was on hand to knock home a rebound after Davy Hawthorne’s low shot from the edge of the penalty area was parried by ‘keeper Flood. Smith and Loughgall’s second came in similar fashion just three minutes later when Flood couldn’t hold Hawthorne’s 20-yard drive, and the striker fired home left-footed from a narrow angle.
Comrades had an excellent chance to pull a goal back on 23 minutes when Chris Kingsberry was adjudged to have handled inside the penalty area. However Mark McClelland saw his weak spot-kick effort superbly saved by goalkeeper Marc Robinson.
The Villagers effectively settled the tie six minutes before the break when Darragh Peden rose highest to power home a header from Kingsberry’s floated corner.
The second period was a more even affair with the visitors starting to create good chances with Scott Irvine coming closest on two occasions. Firstly Robinson in the home goals parried his low driven shot on 52 minutes and five minutes later he was again thwarted as his powerful header from McClelland’s corner was well saved.
The scoring was completed buy cheap generic vicodin one minute before the full-time whistle when substitute Stephen McCain burst inside the penalty area and finished at the second attempt.
Loughgall: Robinson, Waddell, A Smith (McCain 72m), Peden, Murphy, Kingsberry, Moffatt, Hawthorne, McGerrigan, McDowell (Clarke 79m), D Smith (Brown 79m). Sub not used: Ebron.
Ballyclare: Flood, McCullough (Hadden 45m), Munster, Adams, Holland, Officer (McGowan 64m), Irvine, Forsythe, McClelland (Burns 74m), Hill, Simms. Subs not used: McDowell, Boyd.
Referee: Iain Hall
Assistants: David Hamilton, Luke Ormsby