In an action-packed encounter – that saw five goals, countless confrontations and two red cards – Loughgall moved up to second place with a hard-fought victory against Newry City.
Manager Colin Malone kept the same starting XI that defeated Seapatrick 7 – 0 in midweek while both Alain Emerson and John Guy were named on the substitutes bench after recovering from injuries.
The visitors started brightly and controlled much of the opening 20 minutes however couldn’t create any clear cut opportunities – they came closest when Decky Carville fizzed a left-footed drive narrowly wide.
Loughgall slowly began to get back into the game and tested City goalkeeper Gareth Buchanan with a couple of efforts, most notably on 25 minutes when Jeff Brady tried an audacious shot from the left touchline that Buchanan had to be alert to tip over.
Newry almost broke the deadlock on 36 minutes when a cross found Marty Havern at the back post and his diving header crashed off the post.
The Villagers went in at the interval ahead after Adam Pedlow’s cross from the right flank came back off in the inside of the far post and hit off ‘keeper Buchanan into the net.
A wonderful attacking move in first half injury time should’ve resulted in Loughgall’s second goal when Mark Teggart collected Pedlow’s sharp pass, feinted past a defender and squared for Dale Malone however he couldn’t keep his effort on target. Six minutes into the second half the hosts doubled their advantage when Stephen Doyle netted a spot-kick after Newry defender Paul Donegan slid in to foul Malone as he was lining up a shot inside the penalty area.
City pulled a goal back on 57 mintutes later when Carville rose highest to nod home Marty Havern’s free-kick delivery. And they missed a marvelous chance four minutes later when Loughgall ‘keeper Marc Robinson superbly parried Darragh Hanaphy’s 20-yard effort before Steven McCabe squared for Havern to miserably fire over from close range.
However Newry City levelled in the 69th minute when another free-kick into the Loughgall penalty area caused confusion; the ball fell kindly for Havern who fired in at the front post.
The highly-charged second period became even more frantic as Loughgall edged back into the lead when Mark Teggart’s corner fell to Doyle, with his back to goal, and he was able to slot home. Bizarrely Doyle’s exuberant goal celebration earned him a second yellow card and as a result was dismissed, much to the disbelief of his teammates.
Luckily for Loughgall, just two minutes later Newry City were also reduced to ten men when Donegan was show his second yellow for an extremely late challenge on winger Teggart.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Stewart, Hull (King 45m), Brady, Doyle, Hawthorne, Ferguson Teggart, Malone (Guy 54m), Pedlow (Emerson 84m). Unused sub: Blevins.
Newry City: Buchanan, King, Devlin, Copeland, Donegan, Freeman, Tierney (S Hughes 60m), Carville, Hanaphy, Havern (Hand 83m), McCabe. Unused subs: M Hughes, Hutchinson, D Hughes.