Lurgan Town got back to winning ways with a wonderful performance against top two team Windmill Star with a battling performance at the Arena.
Town started really well pressing Star from the first whistle and wouldn’t let their opponents settle on the ball and winning possession in dangerous places. In the forth minute this paid off when Ryan McGuckin seized on a loose ball and swept a ball out to Ryan Blacoe on the left wing. Blacoe delivered a wicked cross that the keeper could only push out to Jamie McNeill, his shot was well blocked but the ball spilt to Jack Hogg who smashed the ball into the net from six yards.
They saw the time just after you score can be a dangerous time for teams and this proved true for Town when Star broke straight from the restart and only a magnificent block by Daniel Johansen stopped a certain equaliser. The game began to open out with Town’s pressing limiting Star to counter attacks through their speedy centre forward who proved to be a handful all day. After Gary Judt was fouled in midfield Alex Woods swung in the free kick and skipper Blacoe headed just wide. Town had a series of corners and from another one, forced after a blocked cross from Adam Leathem, Ryan Blacoe’s effort was headed powerfully into the net by Jamie McNeill to double Town’s advantage.
Ryan Blacoe then had a free kick well saved by the Star keeper and seemed to be on top. They were then struck with a sucker punch just before the break when the Star centre forward broke through on goal and rounded the advancing Hancock before coolly sliding the ball into the empty net.
Half Time: 2 v 1
The second half saw Star come out strong and Town had to quell the initial rush. Town started a little nervously as if they knew that their first half efforts deserved more than a one goal lead. This led to the game getting scrappy with lots of fouls and stoppages with a few efforts in between. the first was a shot from Fionan Dunbar from the edge of the box and the second a shot for Windmill from the corner of the box. Both efforts were well saved by the keepers.
Town brought on Joshua McClune and Matthew Cupples who between them formed a rock solid barrier in midfield that Star seemed unable to get through. Arai Da Silva had began to cause the Star right back lots of problems and after he had already been cautioned for pulling Da Silva back he received a second yellow card for a crude challenge on the nippy winger. Town probed to try and take advantage of the extra man but Star didn’t change their approach much still waiting on counter attack opportunities. Challenges were now flying in and the referee seemed to by loosing control of the game which became even more evident after a late lunge on Blacoe went unpunished and when the Town captain challenged his opponent they began pushing each other. Quickly broken up with no harm done both managers were shocked when the referee brandished red cards to both players when a yellow would have sufficed.
With only five minutes left Windmill then threw caution to the wind in an attempt to get the equaliser but got a taste of their own medicine when a slack back pass by Star’s centre back was intercepted by Hogg who easily rounded the keeper and slid the ball into the goal to end the game as a contest.
Other than the disappointment of the red card Town’s management team were impressed with how the lads have continued to apply the new game plan and that they are playing with an energy and attitude you only find in good teams. Next week sees them take on Lisburn Distillery who have had a series of good results lately and provide a good test.
Full Time: 3 v 1
Town A Hancock, A Leathem, R Blacoe (c), M Smyth, D Johansen, S Wilson, G Judt, A Woods, J McNeill, J Hogg, R McGucken. Subs: A DaSilva, F Dunbar, M Cupples, J McClune