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Saturday 06 Jan 2024
Clearer Water Irish Cup | Fifth Round recap

Managerless Ards dumped holders Crusaders out of the Clearer Water Irish Cup on a day of high drama in domestic football’s most prestigious cup competition.

The Championship side, under the interim control of Darryl Phillips and Paul Kee, caused the upset of the round at Seaview against the side launching their campaign to win the famous old trophy for the third successive season.

Ards moved in front after a quarter-of-an-hour through Patrick Cafolla’s strike into the bottom corner, but it looked like the game might ultimately go to form when Jordan Forsythe levelled for Stephen Baxter’s side just before the break.

The sides couldn’t be separated in the second half, nor in extra-time despite both creating numerous opportunities and striking the woodwork.

That took the game to the inevitable penalty shoot-out, and after both camps scored with their first six spot-kicks it fell to Ethan Taggart to knock home the winner after Crusaders defender Billy Joe Burns saw his attempt kept out by Alex Moore.

The Crues weren’t the only top flight side to exit the competition on penalties to Championship opposition after Carrick Rangers succumbed to Portadown in similar circumstances at the Loughview Leisure Arena.

Danny Purkis had edged Stuart King’s side into an eighth minute lead but Portadown’s recent signing Zach Barr marked his debut with the leveller midway through the first half.

And, as with events at Seaview, that completed the scoring for the remainder of normal time and into extra-time.

Purkis kicked the shoot-out off but his effort was saved by former ‘Gers keeper Aaron Hogg, and this put Portadown on the front foot throughout with Ryan Mayse, Ross Redman, Jack Henderson, Ciaran Dobbin and Mark Russell all successfully converting to send Niall Currie’s charges into the sixth round.

There were strong signals that another upset might have been on the cards at Windsor Park as Warrenpoint Town raced into a two-goal lead over Linfield before the Blues hit back to level and ultimately emerge victorious.

‘Point struck twice either side of the half-hour mark through Aaron Corish and Jim O’Hanlon, but Linfield were thrown a lifeline when Chris McKee reduced the deficit in first half stoppage time.

McKee then bagged the leveller on 69 minutes, before Darragh McBrien and Matthew Fitzpatrick scored within a few minutes of each other to ensure safe passage for the Premiership leaders.

Across the city Glentoran were almost taken all the way by Annagh United at the BetMcLean Oval with only a Junior goal on 90 minutes into the bottom right corner tipping the balance in favour of Warren Feeney’s men.

League champions Larne were taken to the 90th minute in the last season’s quarter-finals by HW Welders at the Blanchflower Stadium but there was no repeat this time around as the sides locked horns at the same venue once more.

Indeed Andy Ryan, who scored the late winner last time out, picked up where he left off with two goals inside the first three minutes to well and truly set the course of the game.

Paul O’Neill added to Larne’s advantage early in the second half and, despite Ewan McCoubrey pulling one back for the Welders, Lee Bonis made sure ten minutes from time.

Newry City, in their first game under new boss Barry Gray, surrendered a two-goal lead at home to Ballinamallard United before eventually winning through.

Ciaran O’Connor opened the scoring after just five minutes, with Adam Salley doubling a quarter-of-an-hour later.

Simon Warrington halved the deficit for the Mallards ten minutes from the break before Alex Holder hit the leveller early in the second half … but the tie was settled with around 20 minutes remaining when O’Connor bagged his second of the game.

There were no such issues for Ballyclare Comrades and Dungannon Swifts, who hit five apiece past Strabane Athletic and Willowbank respectively.

Both could point to five different scorers too as Lee McGreevy, Caolan Donnelly, Owen McConville, Darius Roohi and Michael Leetch all found the net for the Comrades while the Swifts have Andrew Mitchell, Adam Glenny, Kealan Dillon, Cahal McGinty and Joe Moore for their goals.

Ballymena United and Glenavon both avoided potential banana skins as they swept to four goal defeats of Queen’s University and Knockbreda.

The Sky Blues travelled to the Dub but despite the Students having a fearsome cup reputation in recent seasons had no answer to Jim Ervin’s side after Steven McCullough, Noah Stewart, Mikey Place and Cathair Friel all got their names on the scoresheet.

For the Lurgan Blues it was a trip to ‘Breda Park but, again, any thoughts of an upset were quickly dashed as Darren Clarke and Peter Campbell found the net in the first half with James Doona and Jack Malone scoring after the interval.

Michael Moore hit an extra-time winner for Ballymacash Rangers as defeated Oxford Sunnyside by the odd goal in five at Knockramer Park, while Bobby Deane and Kirk McLaughlin struck for Institute at the Brandywell as they got past Crumlin Star also after extra-time.

Loughgall scored three goals without reply past Rosemount Rec. at Lakeview Park with Mark Patton, Benji Magee and an unfortunate own goal by the visiting keeper proving the difference between the sides.

Elsewhere, Jordan Hughes scored twice as Bangor defeated Dergview 3-1 at Clandeboye Park, as did Newington’s Paul Donnelly as the Swans accounted for Dundela at Inver Park.

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