Goals the name of the game for Loughgall boss Dean Smith

Loughgall manager Dean Smith.
Loughgall manager Dean Smith.
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Loughgall head into the weekend Bluefin Sport Championship programme as the second-tier top scorers - but for boss Dean Smith the most important goal remains the first.

The Villagers cruised past PSNI on a 6-0 success last weekend to maintain the impressive start to the season which has kept the Lakeview Park outfit level at the head of the standings with derby rivals Portadown after 15 games apiece.

That rout arrived as a winning response to the previous weekend’s 4-1 loss to Ballyclare Comrades, with Smith full of praise for his players’ ability to bounce back.

Nathaniel Ferris’ brace arrived alongside goals for Jordan Gibson, Peter Campbell, Andrew Hoey and Dale Malone.

“Goals change games of course and the first is always vital,” said Smith. “We found that against Ballyclare when we didn’t take our opportunities at 0-0 and went on to lose.

“Credit to the players for the ability to get back on track against PSNI, that was important off the Comrades result.

“Against Ballyclare we lacked the usual intensity and we remain a group of players at our best when on that front foot.

“One of our strengths is being proactive not reactive and playing with that energy and drive offers us the fluidity we want going forward.

“You could see on Saturday the huge lift it gave the players to score first and we went on to get something like three in 11 minutes.

“In the second half PSNI made life more difficult but our first-half lead effectively killed the game.

“Another clean sheet can only help improve our confidence, especially given the run of injuries across the group which has left our options stretched.

“We face maybe seven or eight players ruled out for what is going to be a tough trip this weekend to Harland and Wolff Welders.

“The Welders have picked up wins over Newry City and Portadown, for example, at home this season and it’s always a difficult venue.”

q Portadown battled back last night from a goal down in Newry to protect top spot within the Bluefin Sport Championship.

Mark McCabe’s penalty kick put Newry City AFC in front on 18 minutes before Adam Salley’s second-half double secured a 2-1 away win for Portadown.