Ten-man Loughgall moved into pole position in the race for a top 6 place with a deserved home win over PSNI. The victory was made even more difficult when Jude Ballard was shown a straight red card after only half an hour for a last-ditch challenge on Lukasz Adamczyk who was bearing down on goal.
The hosts started brightly and threatened early when after 7 minutes Gary Liggett collected a pass before firing into the sidenetting from inside the penalty area.
The Villagers opened the scoring on 20 minutes through a sensational 35-yard strike from midfielder Marcus Dallas that flew past PSNI ‘keeper Jordan Williamson into the back of the net.
Loughgall’s day became even better one minute later when Williamson lost Peter Campbell’s corner delivery and Ricky Copeland was on hand to convert from close range.
Despite Ballard’s dismissal on the half-hour mark the visitors never really threatened throughout the first period. Loughgall had the best chance before the break when, on 41 minutes, Dale Montgomery’s long free-kick was headed just wide by Mark Stewart at the back post.
Gary Liggett missed a good chance on 58 minutes when he rose highest to head Campbell’s corner however the forward was under pressure and couldn’t direct his header on target.
The Belfast side had two decent chances around the hour mark; firstly Johnny McClurg’s 20-yard effort produced a good save from home goalkeeper Gareth Buchanan. And then Buchanan was called into action again to tip over Jake McNeill’s curling free-kick.
PSNI had goalkeeper Williamson to thank on three separate occasions for great saves to deny Liggett his first goal in Loughgall colours. The best of which was when Williamson deflected the ball with his feet onto the front post after Liggett’s low effort.
PSNI grabbed a late consolation when, in injury time, substitute Paul McDowell’s fierce strike from the edge of the penalty area was parried by Buchanan and McNeill was on hand to tap home the rebound.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Montgomery, Ballard, Copeland, Stewart, Dallas, Ferguson, Mullen (McConnell 64m), Campbell, Liggett, Ferris (Hoey 86m). Unused subs: Neill, McMaster, Stretton.
PSNI: Williamson, Chandler, Riddle, Kirk (Wilson 45m), McDermott, Berry (McDowell 63m), Malone, McClurg (Wade 63m), Trussell, McNeill, Adamczyk. Unused sub: Courtney.