Lurgan Town took on Markethill Swifts in the Marshall Cup on Saturday and what a game of football it turned out to be.
The game started very brightly for Lurgan Town, pressing high and causing problems for the Markethill defence. It wasn’t long before the breakthrough came from Gargasas, who dragged the centre half out of position and took him on 1 v 1 before rifling an unstoppable shot into the bottom corner from 18 yards out with 5 minutes gone.
Markethill equalised soon after when Boyce was deemed to have fouled the centre forward in the box as he raced through. The penalty was given and duly dispatched to level the game. Coming up on the 20 minute mark Lurgan then took the lead again, when they were awarded a penalty of their own, and Jack McNally continued his good run of form firing into the top corner to make it 2-1 Lurgan Town.
Then on the half hour mark the real turning point in the game came, when again the centre forward went through, and again was fouled by Boyce resulting in another penalty and second yellow. Jack McNally offered to take the gloves for the remainder of the match but unfortunately could do nothing to stop the equaliser from the spot. This seemed to spur the Lurgan boys on from this moment and they were very unlucky not to go into half time in the lead, with Captain Joel Adams and brother Luke Adams both going close. Half time 2-2.
The second half seen 10 man Lurgan kick through the gears and debutant Millen was causing havoc up top with his pace, not giving the defenders a minute. The impressive trio of Adams, Warren and Wiltshire in midfield dominant and covering every inch of the pitch. Then a sucker punch came when yet another penalty was awarded for Markethill. The centre forward again slotted past McNally in nets. 3-2 Markethill.
Swifts had a spell where they had a few chances but much to the surprise of everyone in the ground, McNally was having the game of his life in between the sticks, and certainly did not look out of place. With 20 minutes to go, Markethill were reduced to 10 men for a hand ball with the ball going into the net, again another penalty was awarded. McNally who was successful from the first spot kick, this time walked up with the gloves on, same outcome, top corner to make it 3-3.
Lurgan had the wind in their sails and kept pushing and pushing, with the Markethill keeper making a string of saves. The game entered stoppage time, and the ball dropped to Gargasas 10 yards out but agonisingly the post denied him and Lurgan a just deserved win. Still there was time for another chance in the dying seconds which seen Millen get away a snapshot only for a great save from the Markethill keeper to deny him the winner. 3-3 after 90 mins.
The game entered extra time and with the Lurgan boys out on their feet, just on the stroke of half time, the ball was played through to the Swifts left winger who slipped it past McNally to make it 4-3. With Lurgan running out of time, they had to push with only minutes remaining, however the final blow was delivered with Lurgan on the attack, Markethill broke to seal the game. 5-3 Full Time.
Special mention to Jack McNally for a complete selfless act in volunteering to go into nets when a man down.
A great showing from the boys with the management very proud of the performance given the circumstances on the day, with players missing and opportunities arising, the kids that came in, showed what a great future they have at the club, every single player can come away with their head held high. Congratulations to Markethill and good luck in the next round.