Ballinamallard United continued their fine start to the season to maintain their five point lead over nearest rivals Newry City at the top of the table. Conversely the defeat continued Loughgall’s stuttering recent form although the scoreline is harsh on the Villagers, they battled extremely hard but were undone by the supremely talented Chris Curran who netted twice in a phenomenal individual performance.
Boss Colin Malone was able to recall captain Steven Ferguson who missed last week’s scoreless draw at Limavady United with illness, meaning Alain Emerson missed out, whilst Paul Keenan started in place of Dale Malone who was serving a suspension.
United forced the first chance of the game on 11 minutes when Mark McConkey’s marauding run down the right wing allowed him to cross for Andy Crawford at the back post, however the ex-Linfield forward wildly fired over.
Loughgall opened the scoring just three minutes later with a superb move, Stephen Doyle collected a pass on the right wing and delivered a pinpoint cross for Marty Verner to emphatically head home for his eighth league goal in nine games.
Goalkeeper Marc Robinson denied Jason McCartney’s long range free kick on 35 minutes, but just three minutes later McCartney had the better of him. Curran’s shot inside the penalty area was cleared off the line by a combination of Robinson and Greg Hall, however McCartney was on hand to finish easily.
Loughgall’s high-pressure game throughout the first half was working extremely well at both hampering Ballinamallard’s passing game and allowing the Villagers to create a number of shooting opportunities. However, within 15 minutes of the second period, this good work was undone twice – firstly Stuart Hutchinson nodded home McCartney’s whipped corner delivery, and then Curran collected a pass 30 yards from goal before skillfully ghosting past three defenders and smashing the ball inside the front post.
Ballinamallard United scored their fourth goal when Feeney flicked McConkey’s throw-in into Curran’s path and the ex-Manchester United trainee found the bottom corner with a well-hit low strike.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Brady, Stewart, Hull, Doyle, Ferguson, Hawthorne (Emerson 69m), Teggart, Keenan (Guy 82m), Verner. Unused sub: King.
Ballinamallard: McGrath, McConkey, Keohane, Carters (Liggett 89m), Stafford, McKenna, Curran, Hutchinson (Kelly 77m), Feeney, Crawford (Sheridan 80m), McCartney.