Lurgan found themselves on the wrong side of a result today that was made even more frustrating given their effort and display of great football. Lurgan Town started well and within 10 minutes had carved out two or three good chances. They kept pressing but only found the Braga goalkeeper in great form.
Then against the run of play a rare Braga attack by their left winger saw him dance past two Town defenders before cutting the ball back for the attacker to open the scoring. Town continued to press and just before half time equalised after Alex Woods swung a high cross in the box and Ryan McGuckin’s knock down found Simon Wilson all alone 6 yard out and he hammered the ball home.
Town then felt aggrieved when they weren’t awarded a penalty for a blatant foul on Jamie McNeill after he had beaten two defenders in the box.
With it looking likely that the game would go into the break all even Town were left stunned when a hopeful ball into the box was headed by Daniel Johansen but he miscues and the ball sailed past Hancock in nets to restore Braga’s lead.
Half Time 1 v 2
Town started the second half in much the same way they finished the first and Johansen was inches away from equalising when he headed a Ryan Blacoe corner just over. Town really piled on the pressure Chances fell to McGuckin, Wilson and Hogg all of which the Braga keeper dealt with magnificently.
All the hard work was rewarded though when a neat passing move found McGuckin on the edge of the box and his flick found Hogg running in on goal before he was crudely upended, this time the referee did point to the spot. Alex Woods who put in a man of the match performance stepped up and gave the keeper no chance with a perfect penalty in the corner.
Town searched for a winner with Blacoe, Hogg, Woods and Wilson all forcing saves and thought they should have had their third penalty of the game when Gary Judt was taken out by the goalkeeper but the referee waved away Town protests.
Braga were then awarded a free kick for a challenge by Wilson which saw the midfielder cautioned. The free kick took a wicked deflection and Hancock, who had been a by stander in the second half until this point, somehow kept the ball out but the all fell to the Braga forward and despite Hancock’s best efforts he slid the ball under the keeper to score Braga’s third.
Town couldn’t believe their luck but they kept their work rate up and Matthew Cupples came so close to bringing them level again with a cross come shot and Da Silva and Woods shooting just past the post. Even with a series of late free kicks Town couldn’t force an equaliser against a very stubborn Braga defence.
Full Time 2 v 3
Town Team: Hancock, Leathem, Blacoe, Smyth, Johansen, Wilson, Judt, Woods, McNeill, Hogg, McGuckin. Subs: Cupples, Da Silva, McClune