Town should go into their opening round game in the NIBFA Cup scheduled next week With a degree of confidence after winning their last three games for the first time in four seasons. What makes it more impressive is that once again the time played with a style and a tempo that belies their age and having six different scorers grab the goals.
They blitzed their opponents in the opening fifteen minutes to go three up with a fine display of attacking football and it was a wonderful passing move that opened the scoring when Matthew Cupples, playing in the unfamiliar position of right wing, fired in from the edge of the box to score his first goal in Lurgan Town colours.
Minutes later Daniel Johansen headed in directly from a Ryan Blacoe corner for his second goal in three weeks. Jamie McNeill, who has been unlucky not to score in the last few matches cut in from the left wing and curled a wicked shot into the top corner from twenty yards. Town were relentless and even three up they continued to press forward and but for a few rare occasions Aaron Hancock had little to do.
After half an hour Town had forced yet another corner and Blacoe’s effort was fired in to the near post were Alex Woods flicked it on and Jack Hogg tried to force an effort over the line which was blocked by a Ballyclare defender. The ball broke back out to Woods and as he was pressed to stop him shooting he deftly lifted the ball over all the on rushing defenders to the back post were Simon Wilson was on hand to smash a low shot into the empty net.
Half Time 4-0
Town made several changes shortly after the half and it did take a while to get the high tempo from the first half started again. They did get back in their stride and Fionan Dunbar, returning after a long lay off, won a free kick outside the area. Ryan Blacoe fired in a shot and was thankful that the goal keeper made a mistake and misjudged the flight of the ball which allowed it to slip under his arms and into the net.
Arai Da Silva was causing major problems for the Ballyclare right back and but for a couple of great saves and last second blocks Hogg would have got his name on the score sheet and when the roles were reversed and Hogg teed up Da Silva he shot wide when the goal was gaping.
In the last phase of the game, a quick break down the right wing found McGuckin challenging for a loose ball in the box with both the left back and the goalkeeper, and with nothing to aim at he kept his cool and clipped the ball over both of them to open his account for the season and score Town’s sixth.
The match then became end to end with chances for both teams and Town’s clean sheet was cancelled out when a wicked shot skidded off the slick surface and deceived Hancock at his near post.
All in all it was great preparation for the cup match next Saturday with the only blot on the copy book was Morgan Smyth having to be replaced due to a thigh injury and it is hoped he will win his race to be fit in time to continue his excellent partnership with Daniel Johansen at the heart of Town’s defence. With twelve goals scored in their last three games the management also hope they can continue their great form in front of goal too.
Full Time 6-1
Town: A Hancock, A Leathem, R Blacoe, M Smyth, D Johansen, S Wilson, G Judt, A Woods, J McNeill, J Hogg, M Cupples
Subs: R McGuckin, A Da Silva, F Dunbar, J McClune