Irish Cup holders Glentoran were given the fright of their lives in the sixth round of the tournament at Holm Park on Saturday. For they managed to hold onto the trophy by the skin of their teeth against a rampant Armagh side who were so close to glory. Instead, the teams will have to fight it out all over again in a replay at The Oval on Monday February 17th! The local lads will have nothing to fear – and everything to gain – as they go all out and try and grab an Irish Cup quarter-final place.
At the weekend City started strongly and twice Glens’ captain and goalkeeper Elliott Morris had to rush out to deny half-chances from Stephen Murray and Ultan Lennon following set-pieces.But, on 15 minutes, the visitors hit back and a sizzling low 25-shot from Jay Magee was diverted just wide of an upright.
And, three minutes later, the Glens opened their account with a wonderful 25-yard shot from Marcus Kane which ripped into the back of the City net despite goalkeeper Sean Morgan managing to get his hand to the ball.At this stage the Belfast outfit looked confident and began to control the game, although Armagh restricted their chances and any danger was swept up the impressive Lennon.
The champions had a great chance to double their tally on 36 minutes when Lennon seemed to block off David Scullion as he competed for the ball with Morgan. Irvingstown ref Tim Marshall immediately pointed to the penalty spot and followed-up by showing Lennon a yellow card. Glentoran’s highly-rated Curtis Allen lined up the spot-kick but, to Armagh’s delight, struck the outside of the right post, and the ball bounced away to safety.
This reverse suddenly inspired City and, three minutes before the break, they had their best chance when Stephen Murray rushed into the 18-yard box and tried to place a low shot past Morris. But the big ‘keeper raced out at full stretch to charge down the attempt.
Half-time: Armagh City 0 Glentoran 1
While the local side were down at the interval they were certainly not out. For in the fifth round of the tournament they came back twice after the break against Ards before evenually winning the tie. Armagh were now facing a fierce wind but they used that to their advanage, keeping the ball on the ground and playing the much better football throughout.
On 48 minutes Paul Cavill showed City were more than capable of getting back into the match when his low 25-yard drive flew just wide. Four minutes later, the same player fired-in a 20-yard free-kick which had Morris scrambling across his goal to push the curling effort around an upright.By now Armagh were the more creative side but the Premier League outfit were dangerous on the break and sub Aaron Boyd was almost an instant hero when he blasted just wide after the hour mark.
However, City were destined to get back into the fray and they deservedly did so on 66 minutes. Sub Kevin Keegan delivered a ball from the right into the box. It was superbly controlled by Murray but, with his back to goal and shadowed by a Glentoran defender, he laid off a pass to Phillip Donnelly on the edge of the box and the inrushing midfielder slammed the ball into the roof of the opposition net, giving Morris no chance.
After this score Armagh came under severe pressure – fighting off both Glentoran’s advances and the strong wind flying into their faces! But, on the stroke of full-time, the home side broke out an almost grabbed the winner. A three-man move involving Donnelly, Murray and City sub Shea McGerrigan came to nothing as the opposition back-four was pulled apart by the lightening move. But the Glens still had time to fight back in injury-time and sub John McGuigan had a golden opportunity to wrap up the tie in the dying seconds.
In the end, however, it finished 1-1 and both sides now have the opportunity to contest the replay at The Oval next Monday evening, February 17.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan (Shea McGerrigan on 55), Ultan Lennon (y/c), Dara Noonan, Eamon Kelly, Matthew Hynds (Kevin Keegan on 71), Liam Cullen, Stephen Murray, Philip Donnelly (y/c), Paul Carvill. Subs DNP: John Daly, Gareth Grimley, Luke Grimley.