Annagh reshuffle marks crucial step within the long-term league strategy

Philip Craig (left) produced a strong midfield performance and finished on the scoresheet against Lurgan Celtic.INPT13-612
Philip Craig (left) produced a strong midfield performance and finished on the scoresheet against Lurgan Celtic.INPT13-612

An internal reshuffle has taken place within Annagh United as part of the application process for next season’s Club Licensing scheme.

Nigel Armstrong will now handle the sole responsibility for first-team management affairs due to his UEFA B coaching qualification.

Dean Smith’s role is expected to focus on coaching as part of the Tandragee Road club’s backroom team.

The off-the-field change marks a crucial step in protecting Annagh’s future status.

Pursuit of on-the-pitch safety from a first season within the Irish League’s second-tier system gained a significant boost last weekend with derby delight over Lurgan Celtic.

Annagh battled back from a 1-0 deficit to see off a Celtic side looking forward to an Irish Cup semi-final appearance.

That weekend win managed to stop the rot following seven NIFL Championship One fixtures without success dating back to the end of January.

“We have Institute at home this weekend and the aim is, of course, to build on the Lurgan Celtic result,” said manager Nigel Armstrong. “We sit four off the bottom at the minute but only three points divide us and four other sides, so it is very tight.

“You always want to make the most of home advantage.

“Scott McCordick should be back and we will keep an eye on the fitness of both Jake Keegan and Nathan Riddle.”

Adam Neale, a recent arrival at Annagh, finished as the hero on Saturday with a decisive spot-kick against Celtic.

It served as the latest positive in Neale’s progress since joining Annagh.

“Adam works really hard, in training and on the pitch,” said Annagh coach Dean Smith. “His finishing in training has been first-class overall but maybe not always something he managed to transfer into games.

“On Saturday he stepped up and stuck away the penalty kick but his all-round performance proved really encouraging.

“Adam Nesbitt was fouled for the penalty and they combined to form a really good frontline partnership.

“Both Adams worked so hard from the top of the pitch and that set the standard, with the work ethic excellent across the team.

“We were poor in the 5-0 defeat by the Welders so it was a chalk-and-cheese situation compared to the really strong Celtic match.

“They took the lead with what we considered a soft penalty but everyone managed to regroup and turn it around, with Philip Craig getting the equaliser as part of his excellent all-round display in midfield.

“Getting our most experienced players back is a big boost.”

ANNAGH UNITED: Mark Robinson, Adam White, Jordan Campbell, Mark Stewart, Richard Allen, Philip Craig, Andy smith, Steven Park, Adam Nesbitt, Adam Neale, Nathan Riddle. Subs: David Anderson, Jake Keegan, Scott Rae, Mark Whitten, Richard Nesbitt.

Kick-off at Tandragee Road will be 3 o’clock.