Ten man Loughgall suffered a late collapse to start their season off with a defeat against Lurgan Celtic at Lakeview Park. Two goals in the last five minutes from Raymond Fitzpatrick and James Wright were the difference between the sides.
Loughgall were without six players from their panel. Midfielder Marcus Dallas joined new signings Chris Elliott, Andy Devlin and Stefan McMaster in missing through suspension while Daniel Ryan was ruled out with injury and Paul Stretton was unavailable.
Celtic started the brightest and created a number of good opportunities. Josh Barton and Richie Thompson combined well with both players going close. On 7 minutes Barton dragged an effort just wide while on 10 minutes Thompson glanced Barton’s cross against the crossbar.
The Villagers threatened through new signing Jack Uprichard in the 15th minute when he got on the end of John Uprichard’s cross however he couldn’t keep his effort on target.
Five minutes before the break forward Warner Mullen, with his back to goal, turned and unleashed a left-footed strike that forced a good save from ‘keeper Conor McCorry.
Lurgan Celtic had Stephen Hutchinson to thank after his sliding block denied John Uprichard’s low goalbound shot after good attacking play by Francis McCann.
The hosts were reduced to ten men when captain Steven Ferguson was shown a second yellow card for a challenge from behind. Despite this set-back Loughgall reorganised and battled well for the remainder of the fixture.
Substitute Ciaran Ryan almost made an immediate impact on 69 minutes for the visitors when he headed against the Loughgall post however it was cleared to safety.
Celtic’s first goal came in the 87th minute when Dale Malone’s free-kick was converted by Fitzpatrick from close range. And the away side made sure of the win in injury time when James Wright raced onto a long ball to round ‘keeper Buchanan and slot home.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Finlay, Taylor, Copeland, Hudson, McCann (McConnell 68m), Canning, Ferguson, Mullen, John Uprichard (Mallen 62m), Jack Uprichard (Campbell 89m).
Lurgan Celtic: McCorry, McAnallen, Rodgers (Cochrane 57m), Hutchinson, McCabe (Seeley 90m), Gibson, Barton, Wright, Thompson (Ryan 68m), Fitzpatrick, Malone.