Gloomy times for Lisburn Distillery as five star Loughgall secure win

Noel Halfpenny (Distillery) celebrates with his team mates. Pic by Mervyn McClelland Presseye

Noel Halfpenny (Distillery) celebrates with his team mates. Pic by Mervyn McClelland Presseye

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Lisburn Distillery took on Loughgall on Saturday in a must win game, however, with the visitors having vastly improved over recent weeks it was always going to be a tough game for the Whites.

Distillery started the game on top creating the first chance of the game on three minutes as Mikey Withers played in Stephen Doyle but he fired his shot narrowly wide of goal.

Loughgall, however, fought back and took the lead shortly afterwards as Marcus Dallas crossed into the box for Warner Mullen, his header superbly kept out by Gerard McErlean but with the the ball spinning out to Jamie Rea the youngster on loan from Glenavon duly smashed the ball into the net unmarked.

Loughgall then doubled their lead on fourteen minutes as Mullen got on the end of some neat inter passing which saw him glide through the Whites defence before coolly slotting low into the net giving McErlean no chance of saving.

Distillery slowly eased their way back into the match and had a good chance to pull a goal back from a Stephen Doyle hit a sweet freekick around the wall but it was well saved at the second attempt by Gareth Buchanan.

The visitors were defending extremely well not allowing Distillery to get any shots away on goal only from long range and this is how the Whites got back into the match as new arrival Noel Halfpenny scored a real 30 yard scorcher from distance the ball flying into the top corner.

This goal seemed to waken Sean-Paul Murray’s side up and it was they who had the next notable chance as Kieran O’Connor got into the box before his shot was well blocked by Aaron Walsh as the Whites started to put pressure on their opponents .

Forty one minutes in Distillery had another chance as Withers cut inside before his shot was well hooked away by Richard Copeland.

Distillery had the last chance of the half as Mikey Withers hit a free kick over the wall but it ballooned over the top.

The Whites would have gone into the second half positive that they could turn the game around, however, it was to start in the worst possible circumstances as miscommunication from ‘keeper McErlean and young full back Taylor Evans saw an attempted cross from Loughgall’s Rea drift past both players and despite Evans last gasp efforts to divert the ball he only succeeded in turning it into his own goal.

The Whites confidence was now well and truly flattened and Loughgall duly took control of the game creating when Daniel Ryan beat Darren Nixon his shot well saved by McErlean.

Three, however, was to become four on 56 minutes as Ryan got on the end of Marcus Dallas cross and he slotted the ball through the legs of McErlean to pile even more misery on the Distillery supporters.

Distillery had a great chance to pull a goal back as Stephen Doyle and he missed a real sitter from six yards out as he scuffed it wide of the target.

Distillery made their first change of the game bringing off Kevin Hughes and Kieran O’Connor bringing on Denver Taggart and Rhys Grainger and shortly afterwards making their final change bringing off Noel Halfpenny bringing on Niall Atkinson.

Denver Taggart had a good chance when he cut inside before shooting inches wide of goal, however, Loughgall were not to be denied and had their fifth in injury time as Jamie Rea’s shot wasn’t held by McErlean, the ball falling to Mullen who fired low into the net. A disappointing disjointed performance by the Whites on a cold dark rainy day, indeed gloomy times for all at the club at this moment in time.

Withers leaves club

Popular forward Mikey Withers has left Lisburn Distillery and signed for Portadown.

The lure of Premiership football proved the key to Mikey’s decision and everyone at Lisburn Distillery wishes him well for the future.

Striker Neil Quinn is the latest name to sign up for the Whites during the January transfer window.

Former Cliftonville player Neil was on trial with Ipswich Town in 2008 and, although he has latterly been with junior side St.Pat’s, Whites head coach Sean-Paul Murray is convinced he can do well in Championship One, welcome on board Neil.

Also departing are Artur Kopyt who has signed for Donegal Celtic and Gareth Ringland who looks set to return to his former club Lisburn Rangers.