CHAMPIONSHIP: Malone’s goal will be tough to top

Lurgan Celtic's Dale Malone was happy with his goal on Saturday afternoon. INLM14-709.
Lurgan Celtic's Dale Malone was happy with his goal on Saturday afternoon. INLM14-709.

Dale Malone says his goal on Saturday will be hard to beat.

The midfielder delivered a spectacular strike inside five seconds as Lurgan Celtic bounced back to winning ways with a 3-1 success over basement side Annagh United at Knockramer Park.

The kick-off was knocked back to Malone who lashed a shot from his own half straight into the net in an opportunistic strike.

“I saw keeper was out near the edge of his box and thought why not, if I hit this right it could be close,” he said.

“It didn’t feel real at first. I think most people in the ground were shocked and didn’t really know what happened.

“I’ve scored a few from the halfway line when I was younger but never straight from kick off. I don’t think it will ever happen again - the goalkeepers might take note!”

Celtic had a chance to double their lead on 22 minutes when a floated Malone free-kick was headed goalwards by Ciaran Ryan, but the post saved Annagh and the rebound from Ryan was blocked by the keeper.

Ryan then had another header saved before Celtic really should have scored, when an excellent Josh Barton through ball put Sean Devlin in on goal, but the keeper again pulled off the save.

On 35 minutes Celtic had keeper McCorry to thank for not surrendering this lead, when a slip by defender Hutchinson put the Annagh forward in on goal, but McCorry dived excellently to deflect the shot wide.

Annagh also struck the bar twice before they managed to draw level on 40 minutes. A ball over the top of the defence found Craig Taylor in space to volley through McCorry’s legs.

Lurgan Celtic were in need of the half-time whistle as Annagh had a great chance to take the lead courtesy of a Jay Gardiner penalty on the stroke of half-time, but McCorry again proved to be the saviour as he saved the penalty with his legs.

The second half lacked any real fluency or goalmouth incidents, although Jordan Gibson will feel he should have hit the target on 53 minutes when he volleyed over the bar when well placed.

The game looked destined for a draw but then up popped Jordan Gibson.

With only eight minutes remaining, he found himself in space only a few yards out to steer a header into the net from an excellent inviting Ciaran Ryan cross. This was just reward for the towering midfielder who was one of the few plus points on the day for Lurgan Celtic.

Annagh’s task of a second equaliser was dealt a severe blow as they were then reduced to 10 men following a second yellow card. And there was still time for a third Celtic goal in injury time from substitute Daniel Ryan to seal the win and three points for Lurgan Celtic, when he broke clear and slotted home.

Lurgan Celtic have played better this season but the key was securing the three points as the team heads into Christmas. Annagh will also hope to draw some confidence from their performance as they seek to pull themselves out of the relegation spots throughout the second half of the season.

Lurgan Celtic’s next match is an away trip in the league to Knockbreda on New Year’s Eve.

CELTIC: McCorry; McVeigh, Hutchinson, Cochrane, Rogers; S Devlin, Barton, Gibson, Malone, R Devlin; C Ryan