Lurgan Town sailed into Round 3 of the NIBFA Cup with a convincing win against Ashton Gate on a wet and windy day in North Belfast.
They couldn’t have had a better star when the referee awarded a slightly soft penalty for a push on Simon Wilson and Matthew Cupples scored his second goal in as many weeks when he crashed home the spot kick. Town kept pushing and were unlucky not to score a second through Jamie McNeill who headed one chance just over and volleyed another just wide.
However Town’s fortune turned for the better again when the Ashton Gate goalkeeper took a free kick from the side of the penalty area and must have forgotten his bearings because when the ball was headed back to Jack Hogg who turned and sprinted towards goal he found himself with a full open goal to score in which he duly did.
Town’s defence was having little to do but a bit of loose play resulted in a corner for Gate and from the kick Ashton’s centre back headed goal ward and the ball struck McNeill on the arm. The ref awarded the pen and Hancock was unlucky when he got a hand to the kick but couldn’t keep it out.
The game then got a little scrappy due to the competitive nature of the tie and the challenges were flying in from both sides. In the past this may have upset Town’s rhythm and the management were very pleased that the boys stood up to the challenge in front of them.
Half Time 2-1
The second half started with Town getting a series of corners and were unlucky not to press home their advantage. Ten minutes in Hogg, pressing high, robbed the centre back of the ball and ran towards goal, took it around the goalkeeper and slotted the ball coolly into the bottom corner.
A little later Town nearly scored the goal of the season when on the end of a free passing move McNeill spotted the goalkeeper off his line and from 25 yards out he lobbed the ball high into the air and just when it seemed to be dropping in the ball crashed off the bar.
Jamie McNeill was then fouled as he took on the full back and from the free kick Ryan Blacoe fizzed a cross to the back post which was headed by Johansen back across goal. After a few missed kicks and clearances the ball, fell to Gary Judt and the dominant midfielder side footed the ball into the goal and give Town an unassailable lead.
The game became scrappy again for the final ten minutes and close to the end Gate got a consolation when they seemed to beat Town’s offside trap and the forward gave Hancock no chance with a hard low finish into the net.
Town then shut the game down to prevent any other chances in a manner that demonstrated they are listening at training which is always pleasing to the coaching team. Best at this was Alex Woods and Simon Wilson who worked tirelessly the whole game.
Next week sees Town take on league favourites Shankill on the back of four wins from their last four games and it is hoped they can keep their work ethic an scoring rate at the levels they are now.
Full Time 4-2
Town: A Hancock, M Cupples, R Blacoe (c), M Smyth, D Johansen, S Wilson, G Judt, A Woods, J McNeill, J Hogg, R McGuckin
Subs: A Da Silva, F Dunbar, J McClune