Loughgall emerged victors over bottom side Lurgan Celtic in a pulsating clash at Lakeview Park that was full of controversy and tension in the final stages.
Ex-Loughgall striker Warner Mullen put Celtic in front after only ten minutes when he sidefooted home from inside the penalty area after good work from Stefan Campbell.
The hosts equalised in the 22nd minute through Jamie Douglas’ first time finish when he fired the ball low past Lurgan Celtic ‘keeper Gavin O’Neill from the edge of the penalty area.
Two minutes later Loughgall missed a great chance to take the lead when Andrew Hoey played in Peter Campbell however the winger was denied by O’Neill’s smart save.
Six minutes before the break Hoey was again instrumental when his accurate cross was powerfully headed home by Douglas for his second goal of the game.
Both sides missed good chances near the start of the second period; Stefan Campbell was expertly denied by Loughgall goalkeeper Craig Robinson when well-placed. And then the Villagers went close through Peter Campbell’s long-range effort when Celtic ‘keeper O’Neill was badly positioned after a poor clearance.
Midway through the second period the game was halted for five minutes after Celtic’s Raymond Fitzpatrick appeared to strike Peter Campbell off the ball. The officials took a full five minutes before deciding to take no further action which incensed the Loughgall players and supporters.
The Villagers extended their lead on 75 minutes when Ricky Copeland evaded Fitzpatrick and rose highest to head Paul Stretton’s corner delivery into the back of the net.
Celtic pulled a goal back in the 81st minute when Josh Finlay upended Campbell in the penalty area providing striker Mullen to notch from the resulting spot-kick.
The visitors piled on the pressure in the search of an equaliser as the game drew significant tension and was filled with niggly fouls however they struggled to test ‘keeper Robinson.
In fact it was Loughgall who came closest to scoring again in the 97th minute when two counter-attacks resulted in Peter Campbell wasting a one-on-one situation and then Hoey agonisingly smashed an effort off the post.
Loughgall: Robinson, Montgomery, Stretton, Stewart (Crooks 69m), Copeland, Ferguson, McConnell, Finlay, P Campbell, Douglas (Nesbitt 49m (Neill 69m)), Hoey.
Lurgan Celtic: O’Neill, Rodgers, Rogers, Noonan, Bell, Gibson, McVeigh, Shannon, Fitzpatrick, Mullen, Campbell. Unused subs: Crawford, McAlinden, McPartland.