City Robbed By Ards Late Strike

Ards 2 Armagh City 2
ARMAGH City were the victims of a late sucker-punch on Saturday which denied them a place in the next round of the Irish Cup!
For they were hit with a 99th minute equaliser when Craig McMillan fired a scuffed shot through a ruck of players past the outstretched Sean Morgan.

At this stage City were fighting a rearguard action after talented centre-back Dara Noonan was given his marching orders for receiving a second yellow card from Belfast whistler Keith Kennedy on 83 minutes.
And former Armagh stalwart Niall Currie – now manager of Ards – quickly followed after he strongly objected to a decison by the ref not to award a penalty for an alleged handball in the box.
These two incidents – and the subsequent laughable restart – when Morgan literally had to dive on top of a bounced ball – then led to almost 10 minutes of extra-time!
And the fact that there was no time to restart the match after the equalising score also raised eyebrows among the fans.
All the excitment came after the break with little to lift the mood in a cagey, and sometimes boring, opening half.
There was little goalmouth action from the outset, with a long distance shot from Armagh’s man-of-the-match Ultan Lennon and a header and shot by Ards’ David Armstrong and James Knowles just about lifting the gloom.
Just before the break, however, the visitors did make the breakthrough following a disputed free-kick.
As City challenged the decision, the ball was played quickly out to the left and McMillan crossed into the danger area where it was met by Knowles who tucked a low shot into the corner of the net.
Half-time: Ards 1 Armagh City 0.
This reverse only served to launch City into a higher gear and they came out after the break all guns blazing.
On 49 minutes a three-man move, involving Steven Murray and Philip Donnelly, ended with Matthew Hynds poking the ball into the opposition net from close-range.
And, just three minutes later, the Holm Park outfit went 2-1 in front when hard-working striker Steven Murray found the net from 10-yards out after he pounced on an inch-perfect cross from impressive midfielder Eamon Kelly.
City should have wrapped up the tie on 69 minutes but Donnelly blasted over the top when well placed and Hynds again went close after another incisive raid moments later.
Shortly afterwards City lost the services of Noonan for his second yellow card offence but the local outfit – with defender Luke Grimley now on as an enforced
change in place of Paul Carvill – looked comfortable despite the numerical disadvantage.
They easily held Ards at bay until 90 minutes but then came the agonising added extra-time which only ended after the visitors late, late equaliser!
Armagh can feel rightly aggrieved to have drawn the tie at this stage as, overall, they deserved victory over the Premier League opposition.
Both team will have to fight it out again on Tuesday next week in an evening fixture, (January 21), again at Holm Park, Armagh. 
Ards: Alan Blaney, Greg Hall (Corey Davidson on 45), Andy Hunter, Sean Cleary, Andrew Mitchell (Stephen Gordon on 65), David Armstrong, Craig McMillan (y/c), Neil Dougan, Wlliam Faulkner, James Knowles, Kyle McDowell. Subs DNP: Ross Arthur, Stephen McCullough, David Gibson.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Dara Noonan (2 y/c, sent off on 83), Ultan Lennon, Eamon Kelly, Matthew Hynds (Gavin Cusack on 90), Liam Cullen, Steven Murray, Philip Donnelly (Gareth Grimley on 70), Paul Carvill (Luke Grimley on 83). Subs DNP: Micky Toland, Eoin Hughes.

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