Loughgall crashed out of a cup competition for the second time in four days to a side from a lower division as Ballynahinch United inflicted a 2 – 1 defeat on the Villagers in the Coca-Cola Intermediate Cup.
United looked to be heading into the break with a two-goal advantage, with goals on 41 and 44 minutes, however Loughgall pulled a goal back in first half stoppage time through Davy Hawthorne to give a slightly different complexion during the interval. Loughgall, with much of the second half possession, struggled to find a cutting edge on a bog like pitch condemning them to a deserved cup exit.
Loughgall were dealt with two injury blows both for today and the rest of season as John Guy and Mark Carson have been ruled out of action for several months with a burst appendix and hernia respectively.
Boss Colin Malone made five changes from the side that lost to Coagh United in midweek; joining the aforementioned Guy and Carson missing were Mark Stewart, Johnny Kernaghan and Adam Pedlow. They were replaced by Chris Hull, Steven Ferguson, Alain Emerson, Paul Keenan and Josh Finlay. Niall Doyle, brother of winger Stephen, also made his debut as a second half substitute after recently joining from Killymoon Rangers.
Ballynahinch opened the scoring through Ross Hayes on 41 minutes; Gary Walsh’s header from a corner was cleared off the goalline by Jeff Brady only for Hayes to somehow smash the ball through a crowded penalty area and beyond goalkeeper Marc Robinson.
The lead was doubled three minutes later when Loughgall lost possession in midfield allowing Johnny Hunter to play a pinpoint cross-field ball for Ian McMullan who, with space, finished well.
Midfielder Hawthorne netted Loughgall’s goal in injury time when he collected a pass at the left hand side of the penalty area, he worked a shooting opportunity to slot home inside the front post for a well-worked goal.
As Loughgall searched for an equaliser they were undone by goalkeeper Brian McMullan on several occasions; in the 68th minute Hawthorne’s inside pass was met by captain Steven Ferguson who, from 15 yards, tested ‘keeper McMullan with a low strike. Ten minutes later McMullan denied forward Paul Keenan who rose highest to head Greg Hall’s cross on target.
Loughgall’s best chance of the second half came with 8 minutes remaining; Hawthorne beat the offside trap to square the ball across both ‘keeper McMullan and the goal for Stephen Doyle however he could only find the sidenetting from close-range.
Loughgall: Robinson, Hall, Brady, Hull, Finlay, Emerson (N Doyle 66m), Ferguson, Hawthorne, Malone, Keenan, S Doyle (Kernaghan 86m). Unused sub: Pedlow.
Ballynahinch: B McMullan, Walsh, Herron, Brashaw, Hayes, McKibbon, Hunter, Patterson, S McMullan, I McMullan, G McMullan. Subs: Dickson, Carlisle, Jones, Boal, Bingham.