Super-sub Richard Lecky broke Glentoran hearts last night as Portadown booked their place in the Co-Operative Insurance Cup final on February 28 — and completed a Big Two double.
Holders Linfield were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Ronnie McFall’s men and the Glens suffered the same agony at Windsor Park.
Andrew Waterworth (below) had given the Oval men an early lead but Wesley Boyle hit back just before the break after the Ports threatened on a number of occasions.
Then, in extra-time after neither side could force a winner in normal time, Lecky was in the right place at the right time to side-foot home from close range after good work by Kevin Braniff.
Braniff wasted a glorious chance to open the scoring after only five minutes when the Glentoran defence went missing.
Keith O’Hara’s inviting ball into the box fell perfectly for Braniff but the normally deadly hitman swung and missed his kick as the Glens backline looked on. Seven minutes later the Glens took the lead through Waterworth.
Ports keeper Neil Armstrong didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as his weak punch from Kyle Neill’s vicious in-swinging corner dropped at Waterworth’s feet and although his first strike was cleared off the line by David McCullough, the ball bounced off the former Hamilton strike and into the net.
The Ports pushed for an equaliser and a reward for their industry finally arrived in first-half injury-time when Boyle crept in at the back post, again unchallenged by the Glens defence, to head Ross Redman’s cross past James Taylor.
Daryl Fordyce saw a reflex header cleared off the line by Redman on 63 minutes. The Ports were piling on the pressure and good balls into the box were asking to be headed goalwards only for Simpson and Johnny Black to head behind.
Braniff, a constant menace, wriggled free with five minutes left and attempted to lob Taylor, only for the Glens keeper to get the slightest of touches to put the ball wide.
Then, in the final minute came the chance Hamilton had been waiting for.
Unable to force his way into the game for much of the previous 89 minutes, the Northern Ireland striker found space in a crowed box but could only shoot over the bar which meant extra-time. And it was Lecky who had the final say with the extra-time winner which sets up a battle with Newry City in the decider.
GLENTORAN: Taylor, McGovern, Simpson, Leeman, Black, Scullion (Fordyce 55), Fitzgerald, Carson (McCabe 60), Neill (Ward 78), Hamilton, Waterworth. Subs not used: Nixon, Halliday.
PORTADOWN: Armstrong, O’Hara, Redman, Hunter, Convery, McCullough (Clarke 89), Boyle (Mouncey 75), McCluskey, McCutcheon (Lecky 77), Braniff, Teggart. Subs not used: Miskelly, Sproule.
Referee: David Malcolm (Bangor).