Limavady and Tandragee make cup progress with narrow-margin victories
Limavady United eased into the next round of the Craig Memorial Cup on Friday night without really having to move into top gear.
It was new United striker Andy Ferris, with his second goal in as many games, who broke the deadlock in the 52nd minute, from which moment on there was really only going to be one winner.
The first half was almost a total non-event, with Rovers generally able to contain the United forwards. In fact, twenty tedious minutes had elapsed
without a shot when first Ferris, next Friel, and finally Brown all had chances, but none caused any great difficulty for Cartin in the visitors' goal.
McFadden had a weak diving header on 28 minutes, and then Jenkins had the visitors' first chance with a curling effort from the edge of the box, but McGraw saved easily. United had the best chance of the half on 39 minutes, as Brown cut inside from the left and had a shot that Cartin had to be smart to push round the post for a corner.
United hit the front after seven minutes of the second half with a goal of quality. Ferris had been quiet until this point, but he collected the ball 30 yards from goal and leaving several defenders trailing in his wake, he shot past the keeper, who hardly moved.
Rovers were forced to come out of their defensive shape, and namely found away back into the game on 58 minutes, as McGraw was beaten to the ball and it was passed into the box for the waiting O'Kane, but he placed his effort wide of the post with the goal gaping.
United kept pressing and probing without a serious effort on goal. McFadden had a fierce shot parried by Cartin and from a corner on 71 minutes, Murray - who already looks a very useful addition to the Roesiders' panel - hit an effort from distance that rippled the side netting.
Chances were coming more frequently now: substitute Morrison had a long-range effort that squirmed out of Cartin's hands and almost into the net then - in the move of the match - Friel did everything right in a speedy interchange of passes, followed by a darting run, only to waste the chance his hard work had created with a weak shot; and almost immediately after, United burst down the other end through Friel, who whipped a low cross across the box, but McCallion could not connect with enough power.
The last ten minutes were the most exciting of the game as United tried to keep Rovers encamped in their box, and the visitors tried everything to break out. Morrison put Harkin in on goal, but his effort was saved by Cartin's feet. Then McCallion had an effort that bounced off the keeper's
As a rare counter-attack was broken up, United had an impressive move from their own penalty area, sweeping the length and breadth of the pitch, with the ball being finally taken off Morrison's toe as he shaped to score.
United manager Neil Mullan will be pleased that his team "won ugly" and kept a clean sheet. He now seems to have a solid defence, and even though Ferris was less effective than in the previous game, he is clearly a handful for defenders. With captain Hugh Carlin to come back from injury, and Jack Heaney playing only a late cameo role, there is competition for places throughout the team.
Meanwhile, at Crystal Park, unbeaten Mid Ulster Intermediate A side Tandragee Rovers reached the Bob Radcliffe quarter finals with a deserved victory against Banbridge Town.
Rovers showed their intent as early as the 5th minute when Bicker picked up a stray Stephen Jones pass and fed AJ Gallagher, and the ex-Town player tested keeper McConville from the edge of the box.
In a Town counter-attack, Rovers keeper Marshall spilled a Conor Downey cross but was relieved to see a defender clear. Seconds later, a left wing free from Nathan Baird saw Ally Wilson turn on the proverbial sixpence and shoot inches past the post with Marshall struggling.
However, just when it seemed Town were turning the screw, Tandragee struck with a great move and Gallagher found a gap in the middle of the home defence and fired his side ahead with a fine strike. This was a real boost to Rovers and they began to dominate possession.
Banbridge's efforts to regain control suffered a hammer-blow after 25 minutes, when Michael Ferguson was shown a straight red for alleged foul language to the referee.
Banbridge upped the ante and Ally Wilson had an effort charged down before James McConville saved bravely at the feet of Tandragee's McCammon after 32 minutes.
Two minutes later, the 10 men were on level terms when Conor Downey lobbed over the head of Marshall after great combination work from Nathan Baird and Ally Wilson.
However, it wasn't long before Tandragee regained the lead and after 34 minutes, the impressive Jamie Rooney skinned Shannon Drainey before firing past the helpless McConville into the far corner.
Young Gareth Orr replaced Ryan Gourley in a technical switch at half-time and seemed to assume a central role up front.
Mark Teggart was having a good game for Banbridge and caused problems with probing runs, although he did not always get the support he deserved. McClean fired over the crossbar after 62 minutes after weaving his way past a couple of home defenders and McConville did well soon after to push a long range shot round the post.
On 71 minutes, a Johnny Black 25-yard free rattled Town's crossbar before being cleared. Ten-man Town pushed forward in search of the equaliser and after 85 minutes, Mark Teggart's effort was saved by the feet of Marshall with Gareth Orr blasting high and wide from the rebound.
Then, when all seemed lost for Town, and into injury time, Teggart connected with an Ally Wilson cross to volley past Marshall to equalise.
The impetus was now with Town, and Ally Wilson had an effort cleared off the line in the early seconds of extra time before sending Mark Teggart through to slot home and Banbridge were 3 -2 in front.
It was now end-to-end stuff, and Tandragee showed what they are made of with a Johnny Black shot past McConville a minute before the break to level matters again.
The toll was beginning to show on the 10 men of Banbridge now and after 112 minutes, another neat Tandragee move saw Corbett fire a 15-yard drive out of the diving McConville's reach to send the visitors into a 4-3 lead.
Town, however, never give up without a fight and Ally Wilson somehow missed his header under the bar from an excellent Neil Watson cross with time running out. It should be pointed out that Banbridge were down to nine men at this stage, as Teggart had hobbled off with a thigh strain and had no fit substitute to replace him.
Belfast Telegraph Digital