COAGH and Loughgall played the first ever league game in the newly formed Reserve Championship. This match has set the bar high for entertaining football, quality goals and end to end drama at Lakeview Park on Friday night.
The Mid Ulster League should be applauded for their forward thinking in starting this new League for Championship sides. The eight Championship Reserve sides that applied include Armagh, Coagh, Warrenpoint, Banbridge, Newry, Loughgall, Annagh United and Lurgan Celtic while Rathfriland and Banbridge Rangers Reserves came in to make up the League to ten.
This League will give all involved competitive football but more importantly it will give strength in depth to all sides involved to help strengthen their first eleven. Friday night’s match has given an early indication of what is to come and how competitive and entertaining the new Reserve Championship is going to be
Coagh Reserves started brightly, with the home keeper Simon Ferguson equal to Andrew Creighton’s first chance on fifteen minutes. The veteran Creighton again missed two more good chances as Coagh surged forward but it was a mistake in the Coagh midfield that led to the first goal of the match.
Loughgall, who had been looking sharp, came more into the game and capitalised from slack play in the Coagh midfield allowing Loughgall to break and score from their first flowing attack The home side again took control from the restart and should have gone further in front only for an outstanding save from Graham McKenzie.
After riding Loughgall’s early storm Coagh deservedly drew level on twenty six minutes. A corner kick from Clive Campbell saw a scramble at goal with full back Phillip Stewart eventually getting the final touch after Alastair McGuckin had steered the ball towards the home goal. Both sides squandered several chances in an entertaining first half. Coagh finally got their head in front with five minutes to go. Another sizzling move involving Ally Young and Scott McGeown down the right saw Young nipping in front of the defender to score past Ferguson at near post to make it 2-1.
The second half started at a frantic pace with both teams working hard. If it was not McKenzie making the save at one end it was Ferguson at the other. Like a game of chess both teams looked and tried for that breakthrough.
Coagh finally broke down the well drilled Loughgall defence on seventy minutes. An excellent delivery from the (Milky Bar Kid), Mattie Kempton and a pin point header from Ally Young (his second of the match) put Coagh well into the driving seat.
Both sides continued to force the play and with a little bit of luck the home side could have got themselves back into the game. Both sides made changes as the game came closer to the end. Coagh finally sealed the win with ten minutes to go.
Substitute Aaron Campbell chased down a terrible outfield pass from the home keeper to his centre half. The alert Campbell nipped in to intercept the pass and score. This goal ended the match and capped a very good performance for Coagh Reserves in the first match in the newly formed Mid Ulster Reserve Championship League.
Graham McKenzie, Andy Neill, Phillip Stewart, Barry Anderson, Ally McGuckin
,Matthew Kempton, Phillip McGarvey, Scott McGeown, Ally Young ,Clive Campbell,Andrew Creighton
Subs: 12 Aaron Campbell, Andrew Creighton (53mins), Timothy Graham for Matthew Kempton (77mins), 15 Simon Young, Phillip McGarvey (85mins),16 Keith McGaw, 17 Robert Allen
IRN-BRU LEAGUE CUP (First round)
Coagh United will have to make the long trip to Portstewart on Tuesday Night the 30th August for a 6-15pm start.
The IFA, in all of their wisdom, have asked clubs to play the IRN-BRU League Cup first round on a Tuesday night. It is a cup match and with the possibility of extra time and penalties this match has to be a 6-15pm start because of the dwindling light This means any of the Coagh players who get the time off work will have to take a half day. Already Coagh are struggling to get a team together for such an early kick-off.
Irn Bru, who has come in to sponsor this competition, deserve better they deserve to see all teams at full strength and good competitive football. With a little juggling with the league fixtures it could have been possible for the first round fixtures to be played on a Saturday.
In today’s climate when people are struggling to hold down jobs it is ridiculous for the IFA to ask teams to travel so late in the season when the light is so bad. With the league season starting a week early it would have only taken one League fixture in midweek to have left a free Saturday.
It begs the question what is going on or is there no forward thinking in the fixture department of our governing body?
On Saturday Coagh travel to Dundela for their third League match of the season - kick off 3pm.
Coagh Utd Res v Warrenpoint Town Res- Sat 3rd Sept 2-15pm @ Coagh Sports Centre