Loughgall put in an extremely assured performance against Carling Premiership side Crusaders and will feel aggrieved to be on the end of a 2 – 1 reverse.
After last week’s shock defeat to Rathfrilland, manager Niall Currie made two changes bringing in Liam Cullen in place of Peter McNeill with Glenn Waddell switching to left back and Andy Smith for David McCullough in central midfield.
The first chance of the game fell to the visitors on 13 minutes when Andy Smith’s curling free kick from the touchline was glanced narrowly over by Neil Alderdice.
Two minutes later Crusaders right back Gareth McKeown threatened from one of his trademark long-range free kicks, however the effort was always rising.
Loughgall had two great chances five minutes before the break both created by Shea McGerrigan. Firstly the impressive winger raced to the byline and whipped in a low dangerous cross which top scorer Dean Smith almost connected with. Then McGerrigan again skilfully beat buyultramnow McKeown and pulled the ball back to Smith, his first time shot was deflected onto the post before being cleared to safety.
After surviving these scares the Crues punished Loughgall when David Rainey nipped in around Andy Smith and tapped home from close range after Owens won the initial header.
8 minutes into the second period the Villagers grabbed a deserved equaliser as Davy Magowan brought down McGerrigan inside the penalty area. Dean Smith stepped up and calmly rolled the spot kick into the corner for his 14th goal of the season.
Crusaders’ winning goal in the 72nd minute was surrounding in controversy after it appeared that in the build-up Rainey used his arm to control and keep the ball in play before delivering a dangerous cross that ‘keeper Marc Robinson couldn’t collect. The ball came to Owens at the edge of the box who hit a snapshot that cruelly deflected off Martin Donnelly and crept in off the post.
The Crues missed a fantastic chance to make sure of the win with 6 minutes remaining when Magowans’ superb forward ball was controlled by Owens with time however the young striker blasted off the crossbar with only Robinson to beat.
Loughgall: Robinson, Waddell, Cullen, Alderdice, Peden, Kingsberry, McGerrigan (Lavery 82m), Hawthorne, A Smith (McCullough 76m), McDowell (Clarke 79m), D Smith. Unused subs: McCain, McNeill.
Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown, McBride, Magowan, Coates, Dallas, Halliday (Arthurs 69m), Rainey, Donnelly (Faulkner 88m), Morrow, Owens.
Referee: Colin Burns
Assistants: T Fairfield, B McClean
4th Official: K Halliday