The U19s went into Saturday’s game against St Mary’s knowing that this fixture was a must win to keep challenging at the top of the league. Lurgan previously met St Mary’s four weeks ago which finished even at one each despite Lurgan leading and creating enough chances to win the game. Therefore, Lurgan knew this was going to be a battle and that’s exactly what happened.
The game started at a fast pace with neither team really getting control of it. Lurgan struggled to get some fluidity into their game as the pitch wasn’t great plus St Mary’s players were there to disrupt Lurgans play. The half was physical but generally fair with both teams not backing out of challenges. St Mary’s created a good opening half way through when they headed over from a free kick. Lurgan had a few half chances but nothing clear cut. Lurgan made a formation change with ten minutes left of the half and 5 minutes later it paid of. Alex Woods played a great pass to Aaron Winters who had his shot saved but Andy McIvor followed up the rebound to score his 7th of the season. Lurgan almost doubled their lead when Andy watched the opposition keeper make an excellent save from his shot outside the penalty area.
Lurgan went into the second half knowing focus was key and they would come under pressure with St Mary’s searching for an equaliser. However, Lurgan doubled their lead when Lewis McKinley on his return to the team resumed free kick duties and hit a 30 yard pile driver that the St Mary’s keeper couldn’t deal with. St Mary’s went on the attack to get back into the game but they came up against a superb defensive performance from brothers and centre half pairing of Brett and Morgan Smyth, plus fullbacks Timmy Millen and Jonathan Russell. On the odd occasion they did break through they found Adam Craig in excellent form. Lurgan made a triple change with 25 minutes left by bringing on Boyd, Crozier and De Araujo with Pedro De Araujo finding space on numerous occasions on the left wing. Lurgans confidence grew and Aaron Winters showed composure out wide to get a cross in for Andy McIvor who just dragged his shot wide. There were other chances for Lurgan to increase their lead but it wasn’t to be as they had to settle for a two nil win.
It wasn’t a great footballing display but the performance and win was down to commitment, desire and a group of players all prepared to go toe to toe in a battle as they came up against a physical St Mary’s. A number of players stood out with Jack Evans and Andy McIvor strong in midfield but the back four and keeper Adam Craig take a lot of credit with Morgan Smyth being selected as player of the match.