MONEYSLANE travelled to their bogey team on Saturday, Lurgan Town, who they had yet to beat in any competitive game.
Slane put in a fine display - maybe one of their best performances of the season so far with a dazzling attacking display.
They started the game with two regulars out, Neil Cochrane and Chris Kerr but on the brighter side it was great to see young Thomas Lockhart back in a Moneyslane shirt after manager Neil McCullough signed him from Crusaders midweek.
Goalkeeper Nigel Fry came racing of his line in the second minute when a through ball split the Slane defence and he bravely dived at the feet of the striker taking the full force of the shot in the face to make a vital save. After treatment Nigel was able to resume and continue with the game.
Slane were playing some slick football in the middle of the park and the home side were chasing shadows but closing down quickly. Whitten laid the ball back to Porter who in turn spread it to right back Weir and his inch perfect pass into the feet of Bingham was dinked on for Moore who rounded the keeper but he was pushed wide by the last defender with the shot resulting in a corner. The ball was swung in and Moore headed wide at the back post.
Slane’s new boy, Thomas Lockhart floated in a free kick deep inside the Town’s six yard box and again Moore used his strength to win the aerial battle to head just over the top.
On the 20th minute Davenport was threaded up the left wing by Boyd and he hit goal bound low to the right of the young keeper, Davidson who made a superb save with an outstretched arm to deny Slane the opener.
Slane’s supremacy was evident in midfield, Moore and Whitten standing out head and shoulders above the opposition winning the battle of strength and the precision of their passing was breathtaking.
Aaron Marks pulled off a great tackle at the back and found the feet of Weir at right back; Weir nipped inside the challenge from the left winger and cut out the Town’s midfield with a lob into the feet of Gibson who found Davenport wide on the left. His cross between keeper and defence found captain Gareth Bingham racing in but he clipped the ball just over the crossbar with a outstretched foot.
With 35 minutes gone Thomas Lockhart had to be replaced with a back injury and Kyle Scott entered the affray.
Slane were rewarded a free kick when the Town’s keeper lifted a back pass and Whitten set the ball up but his effort rippled the side netting.
The well organised defence of Weir, Marks, Boyd and Porter were solid at the back for Slane thwarting any attack on the Slane goal.
Gibson was dangerous with his speed, running at the Town’s defence and they were lunging in at the young Slane player who has matured well under the guidance of manager McCullough. Gibson picked the ball up deep in midfield and rode two hefty challenges, racing up the line and firing his dangerous cross into the box. Bingham had his effort cleared off the line.
It was all Slane and they were firing everything bar the kitchen sink at the home side in the dying minutes of the first half to find a way through a stubborn defence and a keeper in good form.
Boyd had a shot charged down and his cross into the penalty area was headed towards the top corner but again the keeper was there to deny Slane a goal .
Slane started the second half at a blistering pace and one minute in, Whitten fired in a shot from 25 yards out and the keeper saved brilliantly.
Gibson curled one from just outside the box inches wide of the upright as Slane continued to attack the home side. Slane were playing with passion, enthusiasm and great flare creating chance after chance.
Porter pulled off a remarkable tackle when he slid in with a well timed tackle and passed to Bingham who played a one two with Gibson and Bingham’s shot went just over the bar. The right winger was dangerous for Lurgan and he broke up the right to lash in a dangerous cross but Fry was showing a safe pair of hands to catch well in the crowded area.
On the hour Whitten broke up the right eluding his marker and squared the ball inside to Scott and he shot was driven with a sweltering pace just wide of the target.
With a quarter of an hour to go and the large travelling support roaring on the Blue and White stripes the pressure paid off.
Sub Jonny Adair took a quick throw in up the left hand side of the pitch and Moore raced in to flick to the back post where Whitten hammered his shot in off the underside of the bar and into the back of the net to send the supporters, players and management into a jubilant and ecstatic frenzy.
The goal spurned on the home side who themselves went in search of the equaliser and they were rewarded a free kick just outside the box and the ball was curled around the wall heading goal bound but Fry was on hand to save well.
Adair hit a power driver just wide when he cut in from the right and Gibson also had an effort go inches wide of the post.
Slane frantically cleared their lines when a ball was delivered dangerously into the crowded area with minutes to go.
Overall a well deserved win for Neil McCullough’s men on the day and it could and should have been by a wider margin. It was great to see Thomas Lockhart back in the Slane shirt and there were some very impressive performances by many players on the team on the day but man of the match went to Andy Moore who put in a solid shift in mid-field and had the assist for the goal.