The U19s played Markethill Swifts on Saturday at the Arena in the Savage Cup semi-final. The two teams had met first game of the season with Lurgan winning 3-1 but Markethill had improved since that game so Lurgan knew this would be a close game.
The first half witnessed both teams a little edgy due to it being a semi final. In fact the half was a little frantic at times with little composure on the ball. The first real highlight was a Lewis McKinley 25 yard free kick that was destined for the top corner but the Markethill keeper tipped over. The chances were limited and those that did come along weren’t clear cut. Alex Woods started the game strong and cut inside to hit a right foot shot from the edge of the box however the keeper saved it and then Aaron Winters headed two Lewis McKinley crosses over the bar. Lurgans defence had their battle against Markethills main threat and top scorer Ben Dougan but Brett Smyth and Jack Oneill dealt with his threat for the majority of the half. However, Lurgan had one scary moment when Jack Oneill didn’t deal with a long ball which allowed Ben to nip in but credit to Jack he recovered to win the ball back. Callum Watkins was a constant threat for Lurgan on the right hand side with his pace and strength.
In the second half it mainly controlled by Lurgan as they upped their game and started to dictate play. Lurgans midfield three of McIvor, Evans and McKinley were becoming more effective and the full backs of Russell and Millen were enjoying more moments in the attacking third. Lurgan opened the scoring via a Lewis McKinley goal direct from a corner kick. Lewis watched the Markethill keeper attempt to scramble it out but he couldn’t therefore Lurgan took the lead. The remainder in terms of goal scoring chances was totally dominated by Lurgan and it’s a total mystery how Lurgan didn’t score another four at least. There were 4 great opportunities with Aaron Winters missing two gilt edge chances that you would normally say was a cert for Aaron then Callum Watkins had a chance but dragged it wide and finally Mark Boyd hit a tame effort at the keeper from 6 yards. In fact the Markethill keeper was having an inspired morning as he made a few more saves with long range efforts that he tipped over. On the odd occasion that Markethill attacked they found a brick wall with Russell, Millen, O’Neill and Smyth plus Ryan Upton in commanding form as they gave great protection to Adam Craig. In fact Adam had a fairly quite morning to keep his third clean sheet of the season. Lurgan seen the game out to reach the final of the MUJL U19 Savage Cup which will take place on Friday 29th December.
Lurgan showed grit and determination to win this game with Brett Smyth, Callum Watkins and Lewis McKinley performing well however they were well supported by their teammates. The team will now look forward to taking on favourites Cookstown in the final but on the day the boys will give everything. Well done lads.