Armagh City 3 Ards 1
Armagh City blasted their way into the sixth round of the Marie Curie Irish Cup after their convincing 3-1 win over Ards at Holm Park on Tuesday evening last.
And their reward will be a mouth-wathering clash with east Belfast giants and current cup holders Glentoran!The replayed fifth round tie against Ards was a game of two halves – with City under pressure in the first but totally dominating the second.
In the opening five minutes the visitors pressed and Cory Davidson broke through only to be denied by a brilliant one-handed save from Armagh ‘keeper Sean Morgan.
But the stopper had no chance on 12 minutes when William Faulkner won a race for the ball against Ryan McGerrigan and fired a 15-yard angled shot across Morgan into the corner of the net.
Ards almost notched another score on 25 minutes when Davidson cut in from the left, chipped the ball over the advancing ‘keeper, but could only succeed in hitting the side-netting.
Armagh’s best opportunity fell to Philip Donnelly on 35 minutes when the sharp midfielder rounded Andy Hunter and broke into the box. However, he was driven wide and a cross into the six-yard area to find the onrushing Steven Murray was cleared to safety.
While the opening period had been luck-lustre from Armagh’s point of view, it was the totally opposite after the break.
For City started very brightly and Donnelly quickly tested Ards ‘keeper Alan Blaney with a 20-yard thunderbolt which was gathered in well.
A 25-yard free-kick from Ultan Lennon was also well saved, while a curling effort from Murray also flew just over the visitor’s crossbar as City pressed for an equaliser.
Ards did hit back but Morgan dealt superbly with a stinging shot from centre-back Andy Hunter.
But then came the City breakthrough.
On 54 minutes a looping header from midfielder Liam Cullen hit the crossbar and dropped down to the feet of Murray who confidently tucked home his 50th career goal for the local club.
And, six minutes later, the Holm Park outfit deservedly took the lead when an inswinging Paul Carvill corner was met by the inrushing Lennon who powerd his header into the net past the bewildered Blaney.
Armagh should have added to their lead on 77 minutes when a ball into the box found Donnelly who managed to curl his 12-yard effort around an upright with Blaney beaten all ends up.
But City finally nailed the tie on 84 minutes when striker Murray used his power to win the ball on the right and his near-post ball to Donnelly seemed to have set-up another scoring chance. However, the midfielder was crudely upened by Kyle McDowell and Belfast ref Keith Kennedy immediately pointed to the penalty spot.
Murray stepped up and confidently drove the ball powerfully into the roof of the net to make it 3-1 and Armagh were almost done and dusted.
In the closing 10 minutes Ards pushed to get something out of the match but two superb saves from Morgan and a resolute City defence easily kept them at bay.
A sensational display by City who kept their best football for the second-half of the match.
Everyone played their part in securing the sixth round spot at home to Glentoran but Morgan, Noonan, Lennon, Cullen, Kelly, Donnelly and Murray can be particularly proud of their efforts.
Armagh City: Sean Morgan, Dale Montgomery, Ryan McGerrigan, Ultan Lennon, Dara Noonan, Liam Cullen (y/c), Matthew Hynds, Eamon Kelly, Steven Murray, Philip Donnelly (Gareth Grimley on 88), Paul Carvill. Subs DNP: Luke Grimley, Kevin Keegan, Micky Toland, John Bailey.
Ards: Alan Blaney, James Knowles, Andy Hunter, Kyle McDowell (y/c), Sean Cleary (y/c), Ryan Henderson (steven Gordon on 24), William Faulkner, Andy Smith, Cory Davidson (William Bingham on 70), David Armstrong (y/c), Ross Arthurs (Andy Mitchell on 64). Subs DNP: Mark McClelland, James Cully.