Jude Ballard’s injury time screamer netted Loughgall a welcome first league win of the season against rivals Coagh United.
Caretaker manager Gary McKinstry was able to give Daniel Ryan a starting place following his recent move to Lakeview Park, while Dan McGarry, Mark Stewart and Niall Lavery came in for Declan McVeigh, Johnny Montgomery and Steven Ferguson.
Coagh opened the scoring after only three minutes when Loughgall ‘keeper Jamie McArdle brought down Stephen Lamont inside the area, striker Jason Gillespie stepped and converted the spot-kick.
The Villagers had ‘keeper McArdle to thank for keeping his side in the game with two great one-on-one saves as Tommy Elder and Lamont beat the offside trap.
Loughgall missed a fantastic opportunity to equalise three minutes into the second half when Niall Lavery saw his penalty kick parried by United ‘keeper William Hassan. The visitors found a way back into the game on the hour mark when Aaron Haire headed home Wesley Boyle’s cross at the back post. And they were ahead three minutes later when Lavery made amends for his penalty miss with a superb 25 yard low shot that crept inside the post.
The lead was short-lived as Coagh levelled when Gillespie’s cross from the left flank was diverted in by Loughgall’s unfortunate left-back Adam Rodgers as he jostled to win the aerial duel with Matthew Kempton.
Both sides pushed hard, in a very open second half, for a winner that would see them escape the bottom half of the table. Substitute Scott McCordick slipped in forward Elder who should have scored for the hosts when well placed on 82 minutes.
Coagh’s near misses were punished as substitute Jude Ballard hit a wonderful 25 yard strike that nestled in the top corner out of the reach of ‘keeper Hassan.
Loughgall: McArdle, McGarry, Rodgers, Stewart, McKee (Fox 53m), Stewart, Lavery, Carson (Ballard 61m), Boyle, Haire, Ryan (Bradley 61m), Brady. Unused subs: Rooney, Campbell.
Coagh United: Hasssan, McGeown, Thornton (Anderson 21m), Calderwood, Ferguson, Donaldson, Park (McCordick 74m), Gillespie, Elder, Dallas, Lamont (Kempton 49m). Unused subs: Taylor, Young.