It’s bottoms up for Gilford as McDermott and Magee shock the leaders with a win for the basement side
The league leaders versus the team propping up the table, on paper should be a foregone conclusion.
Armagh Celtic came to Gilford on Saturday having gained maximum points from five league games, scoring 23, conceding only six while Gilford had no points from their five, scoring 8 and conceding 27.
Statistically, an easy win should have been on the cards for Armagh but Gilford rallied to claim a thrilling 2-0 win.
Manager for the day, Chris McArdle, rang the changes, giving starts to new boys John McAreavey and Kevin McCartan and to the returning Magee brothers and James McDermott, returning after the birth of his daughter.
Keelan McKinstry returned in nets, possibly expecting his toughest test of the season but, in the event, had one of his quietest days whilst earning his first clean sheet of the season.
Soon after the first whistle, Gilford were creating chances up front without gaining any reward for their efforts but knew they had to keep pushing whilst maintaining their discipline.
Their perseverance paid off in the 27th minute when they earned a corner following some sterling passing play between Arlow and the Magees.
McAreavey swung the corner in towards the front post, with McDermott swooping in to get his head to the ball with just enough of a touch to steer it over the line.
Gilford could see that the turn of events had unsettled their opponents and set out to take advantage of that fact. Team captain O’Hare was an inspiration in the centre of the field as he claimed every ball that came near him both in the air and on the ground.
This left plenty of time and opportunity for McAreavey to control the play as he sprayed precision passes around the field. Up front, the Magees, ably supported by McDowell on the left and McDermott on the right, continued to torment their opponents without getting that final, killer touch.
The break seemed to, temporarily, invigorate Armagh as they created more half chances than the entire first half in the opening five minutes of the second half. McKinstry and his defence however, were equal to any challenge.
With the brief Armagh resurgence snuffed out, McAreavey had the chance to grab the goal his play so richly deserved in the 50th minute when he latched onto a McDowell cross from the left touchline, only to see his effort slip past the post.
Gilford’s lead was increased within five minutes when following a knock on from a long kick out Chris Magee gathered the ball and expertly rounded the keeper to slot the ball home for a 2-0 lead.
Armagh were looking shell-shocked by the unfolding game and whilst they created a few chances before the final whistle these were half hearted and easily thwarted by Gilford.
The home team in comparison were well on top and continued to taunt and tease the opposition defence.
When the referee blew the final whistle, Gilford were the worthy 2-0 winners. So, finally Gilford have points on the board and will be looking to build on this stunning win in the coming weeks.
Next week, the firsts are away to Riada in round two of the Junior Cup up at Ballymoney, kick off 1.30pm. The Reserves are at home to Donaghmore Reserves in Reserve League Three, kick off 2.15pm.