Loughgall warmed up for their Tennent’s Irish Cup semi-final with an impressive victory over third-placed Harland & Wolff Welders at Lakeview Park.
The Welders began the game much brighter than the hosts and should have taken the lead through one of their four good chances inside the opening 15 minutes. Dan McMurray first threatened after Davy Graham’s corner when his volley, from inside the penalty area, sailed just over the crossbar.
A long throw from McMurray was met by David Rainey’s glancing header however the veteran forward couldn’t keep his effort on target. Then Ross Arthurs was released through on goal but dragged his effort wide with only Loughgall ‘keeper Gareth Buchanan to beat.
On 12 minutes good skill saw Rainey run clear into the Villagers’ penalty area; he rounded ‘keeper Buchanan who forced him wide meaning he couldn’t convert from the tight angle.
Loughgall missed their own excellent chance in the 14th minute when Paul McDowell played in Peter Campbell. The winger bearing down on goal forced a good low save from visitors’ keeper Ben McCauley.
The home side opened the scoring on 21 minutes when Conor Mullen’s pass inside to McDowell, 12 yards from goal, was smashed into the roof of the net.
The lead was doubled in the 33rd minute when Campbell was released clear on goal and he made no mistake slotting low past goalkeeper McCauley.
The Welders grabbed a goal back three minutes before the half-time whistle when Graham’s corner was converted by Gary Spence with a strong header.
Loughgall missed a wonderful opportunity to extend their advantage when Mullen’s deep cross was headed wide by the unmarked Campbell at the back post on 63 minutes.
Campbell made up for his miss one minute later with a superb forward pass that allowed Nathaniel Ferris to race onto. He managed to beat the outrushing McCauley to chip over the goalkeeper for a well-taken finish.
Rainey performed a clever turn and shot inside Loughgall’s penalty area however the low effort crept narrowly past the post on 75 minutes.
The Belfast side struggled to create many more clear-cut opportunities as they chased the game. Their best chance fell to Lukasz Guiadaz however the midfielder missed the target after being released clear through on goal.
Loughgall: Buchanan, Montgomery, Rea, Copeland, Stewart, Dallas, Mullen, Ferguson, McDowell (Liggett 65m), Campbell, Ferris (Ballard 86m). Unused subs: Hoey, McConnell, Neill.
H&W Welders: McCauley, Spence, Armstrong, McMillan, McMurray, Harris (Bonnes 70m), Guiazda, Deans, Graham, R Arthurs (B Arthurs 73m), Rainey. Unused subs: Malone, Dornan, Robinson.