Loughgall were unable to make it four league wins on the bounce with a hard-fought draw at home to Limavady United in a proverbial game of two halves.
Colin Malone made a solitary change to his line-up from last week’s away win at Glebe Rangers with Stephen Ferguson replacing Paul Keenan, and as a result Dale Malone pushed forward to partner Marty Verner in attack.
There was chances for both sides during the opening exchanges; Trevor Parkhill collected a long pass before his attempted lob over ‘keeper Marc Robinson sailed harmlessly wide on 6 minutes. Then, in the 9th minute, Stephen Doyle struck the ball across goal and Mark Teggart connected at the back post however the winger couldn’t find a way past goalkeeper Laurence McCormick.
On 16 minutes the hosts took the lead courtesy of Doyle’s well-taken lob; the former Ards man controlled Neil King’s forward pass before spotting ‘keeper McCormick off his goalline and duly finishing from 25 yards.
Loughgall doubled their advantage 8 minutes later, as they began to assert control on the game, when Marty Verner netted from the penalty spot for the fourth occasion this season. A burst of pace from winger Teggart forced Ricky Close on the wrong side of him and the right-back gave referee Lee Tavinder no option but to award the penalty when he forcefully tugged Teggart down inside the area.
United missed two excellent opportunities shortly after when, firstly, Cathair Friel raced in behind the Loughgall defence before squaring to Lee Patrick inside the penalty area and his first-time shot was excellent blocked by right-back Greg Hall sliding in. Then Patrick and Friel combined again but the latter fired miserably wide from a difficult angle.
The away side pulled a goal back in the 59th minute when Declan Divin headed a long ball into Friel’s path and the winger finished low into the bottom corner. And they levelled with 15 minutes remaining when Ruairi McClean netted following a goalmouth scramble when Dale Malone had earlier headed off the goalline.
The Villagers missed a good chance to regain their lead four minutes later when a quick breakaway saw Malone and Verner combine to set-up substitute Paul Keenan, however the forward was unable to get enough power on his effort to trouble ‘keeper McCormick.
Then Loughgall managed a massive slice of good luck when Neil King inadvertently tripped Ryan Doherty just inside the penalty area and referee Lee Tavinder awarded a spot-kick. However after consulting with his assistant, they decided the incident took place outside the penalty area much to Limavady United boss Davy Platt’s disbelief.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Brady, Hull, King, Doyle, Ferguson, Hawthorne, Teggart (Keenan 63m), Malone (Pedlow 88m), Verner. Unused subs: Emerson, Stewart, Rooney.
Limavady: McCormick, Close (Harkin 71m), Rodden, McConaghie, Roddy, Patrick (Moore 90m), Clarke (Doherty 62m), McClean, Parkhill, Divin, Friel. Unused subs: Blackburn, Lynch.
Referee: Lee Tavinder (Dungannon)