Armagh City 1 Loughgall 0
There was no quarter asked for or given in this Belfast Telegraph Championship One derby match at Holm Park.
Both teams went for the jugular from the outset and several early feisty tackles set the pattern for a full-blooded, no nonsense affair.
Loughgall had the best initial chance when Daniel Brown blasted wide from 10-yards while City were denied an opener almost immediately when hesitation by Stephen Murray meant a great chance went abegging.
On 21 minutes Armagh had superb back-to-back chances when Paul Carvill’s rasping 20-yard shot was tipped over the crossbar and then central defender Ultan Lennon headed just wide from the resultant corner-kick.
Then a brilliant cross from the left by City’s Philip Donnelly just eluded their inrushing captain Liam Cullen who flicked the ball wide when a goal looked on.
Loughgall weathered this storm, however, and just before the break almost opened the scoring themselves but a powerful shot from Marcus Dallas was brilliantly diverted around an upright by Armagh’s outstretched ‘keeper Sean Morgan.
Armagh launched an early attack after the break and Lennon headed just over from six yards after another decisive set-piece from the Holm Park outfit.
City were now taking control and, on 50 minutes, Murray blasted the ball over the Loughgall crossbar from close range.
But, just a minute later, they did take a deserved lead when Dara Noonan won the ball from a corner-kick and headed back across goal where Murray popped up to apply the finishing touch at the near-post.
City then almost capitalised with a carbon-copy move but, on this occasion, Noonan’s dangerous effort at the back-post was cleared.
As time was running out Loughgall threw caution to the wind and almost equalised on the stroke of full-time but, to City’s delight, the final shot was blasted just wide.
A competitive match, Armagh were delighted with the three points against their arch rivals but the Villagers can earn early compensation when they contest the Bob Radcliffe Cup final at Lakview Park on Boxing Day morning.
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