Armagh City 1 Glentoran 1
Irish Cup holders Glentoran just about maintained an interest in this year’s tournament after they barely overcame a torrid sixth round tie against a battling Armagh City on Saturday.
The Championship Two outfit started the brighter on their superb 3G surface and visiting ‘keeper Elliott Moris was relieved to hang onto two half-chances from the Holm Park outfit in the opening 12 minutes.
But, three minutes later, the tide started to turn and Glentoran’s Jay McGee was unlucky to see his low 25-yard effort diverted narrowly wide for a corner.
However, on 18 minutes, everything looked rosy for the champions when a sensational rising strike from Marcus Kane flew into the Armagh net despite the best efforts of City ‘keeper Sean Morgan.
This was the Belfast side’s best period of play and for 20 minutes they ruled the roost and looked to extend their lead when Irvingstown ref Tim Marshall awarded a penalty to the visitors on 40 minutes when Ultan Lennon upended the marauding David Scullion.
The spot-kick was lined-up by Curtis Allen who immediately handed Armagh a life-line when he blasted the ball off the left upright to safety.
This was the boost City needed and they almost made Glentoran pay when striker Stephen Murray burst into the oppostion box, only to be denied by the sprawling Morris.
Half-time: Armagh City 0 Glentoran 1.
There was a quiet confidence about Armagh after the break as they knew in their two previous cup games, against Ards in the fifth round, they had to come from behind to draw and then win the replay.
And this was confirmed on 47 minutes when a 25-yard blockbuster from City’s Paul Carvill whizzed past an upright.
Five minutes later the same player set-up a free-kick just outside the box and Morris had to be at his absolute best to push the curling 20-yard effort around a post.
Despite playing against a really strong wind, City were now dominating, although they could have been caught by a sucker-punch on 64 minutes when Glens’ sub Aaron Boyd fired a curling shot from the edge of the box just wide.
Two minutes later, however, Armagh were back on level terms with a stunning score.
A cross into the box by sub Kevin Keegan was controlled by Murray. With his back to goal and shadowed by a Glentoran defender, he passed the ball towards the edge of the box where the onrushing Philip Donnelly smashed a stunning shol into the roof of the net, giving Morris no chance on this occasion.
The tie was now wide open and City will be kicking themselves when, on the stroke of full-time, a three-man move involving Donnelly, Murray and Armagh sub Shea McGerrigan failed to produce yet another score.
But there was still time for the Glens to grab the spoils when late visiting sub John McGuigan just failed to find the net from close range.
So, the match ended 1-1, and Glentoran will be delighted to be getting another bite of the cherry at The Oval next Monday evening.
Afterwards, delighted City manager Marty Rice (pictured) praised his team.
“I thought the boys were absolutely magnificent and fought for everything. We could have won today but we live to fight again and will remain positive about our trip to Belfast next week,” he said.
Glentoran boss Eddie Patterson was not at the tie because of illness and, no doubt, he will want to be fit for the replay in order to rally his troops against a never-say-die Armagh outfit.
The Belfast side will remain strong favourites to win the tie but beware of the bite from the underdog!
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.
Glentoran: Elliott Morris, Willie Garrett (y/c), Johnny Addis, Calum Birney, Jay Magee, Stephen McAlorum (Aaron Boyd on 63), Marcus Kane, David Scullion (John McGuigan on 85), Curtis Allen, Niall Anderson, Jordan Stewart (Jim O’Hanlon on 74). Subs DNP: Mark Miskimmon, Aaron Hogg.