NEFL Premier Division
Rock Celtic 2-2 Ardee Celtic
Robbie Reynolds’ penalty two minutes from time earned Ardee Celtic a draw with Rock Celtic in a contentious game at Sandy Lane on Friday night.
Rock looked set to secure their second league win of the season when veteran David Ward headed home with seven minutes to play, but there was late controversy when Ardee centre-forward Ryan Burns hit the ground having been tugged when racing goalward. The contact appeared to have taken place outside the 18-yard box, though referee Daryl Carolan pointed to the spot, a decision which infuriated the home side.
The outcome sees both teams move up the Premier Division table, with Rock, who remain a point shy of the Deesiders, now five league matches unbeaten. However, they were left disgusted at failing to collect the maximum haul here.
Scoreless at the end of an even first half where chances were traded, Burns forced Rogers into a fine stop, while Rock midfielder Ronan Doherty had a goal chalked off. Ardee defender Niall Sharkey also cleared an effort off the line from Niall Donnelly on the eve of half-time.
And that intervention proved hugely important considering Reynolds put Ardee ahead from 12 yards shortly after the resumption. His strike partner, Bryan O’Connor, went down after challenging Rogers and while the ball drifted across the endline, the whistler adjudged foul play.
Substitute Derek Delany aided the cause of Paudie Gollogley’s side as they gradually committed more numbers to attack, providing the delivery from which Donnelly coolly found a way past Stuart Reynolds to level affairs.
Then the drama unfolded, with Ward making it 2-1 to Rock before Reynolds showed his class, amidst a paradox of emotions, to level the scores from the spot.
It may even have got better for the visitors had Rogers not stopped Burns from completing the turnaround at the death.
Rock Celtic: John Rogers; Liam McDonnell, Shane O’Callaghan, Aaron Casey, Fearghal McDonald; Seán Hand, Éanna McArdle, Ronan Doherty, Aidan Curtin; David Ward, Niall Donnelly
Subs: Paddy Reilly, Derek Delany
Ardee Celtic: Stuart Reynolds; Aaron Roche, Ken Thornton, Niall Sharkey, Robbie Reynolds; Shawni Dowdall, John Bingham, Lorcan Malone, Gareth Kane; Ryan Burns, Bryan O'Connor
Subs: Pierce Hawkins, Tristan Knowles, Stuart Osborne