PSNI ignore betting talk to slam the door on Albert Foundry in County Antrim Shield
Albert Foundry 0 PSNI 3
It was the match that had people talking even before it kicked off when betting was suspended on Albert Foundry's Co Antrim Shield quarter-final with PSNI at Seaview.
Social media picked up on the fact that bookmakers had suspended betting on the game after an influx of bets were placed on Foundry to win at 4/1.
Hours ahead of last night's 7.45pm kick-off, an Albert Foundry source dismissed any suggestion of suspicious betting patterns, saying: "The simple explanation is that the bookies got it all wrong when they offered Albert Foundry at 4/1. They didn't do their homework.
"We defeated PSNI in a semi-final last season and when people who knew that saw the price on offer, they piled in for a chance of easy money.
"The bookies realised too late that they had been too generous with their offer."
As it turned out the bookies perhaps knew more than people thought with PSNI running out comfortable 3-0 winners in a match watched by an independent observer from the Irish FA.
The Championship side outperformed their Amateur League opponents, laying the foundations for the win with a dominant first-half performance, with midfielder Mark Anderson having an effort ruled out for offside and then a curling shot saved by keeper Paul Hughes.
A stroke of luck was what turned that control into a lead, Graham Beck passing straight into the path of Darius Roohi, who delicately lifted the ball over the onrushing Hughes and into the gaping net beyond him.
Foundry are two divisions below their opponents, and it showed. At times their decision making was slow and their passing slack. Any chance of a comeback evaporated when Jordan Clarke failed to convert after being set away by a poor back pass just before the break.
Instead it was another bit of good fortune that doubled PSNI's advantage just after the restart as Joe West leapt to clear a corner but only succeeded in heading it backwards and into his own net.
It was a cruel twist of fate, but nothing less than the visitors deserved and it visibly removed the fight from Foundry.
It wasn't much of a shock, then, when Lukasz Adamczyk popped up at the front post for PSNI's third, and ended the game as a contest with 15 minutes left.
Joe McWilliams, Adamczyk and Owen Moody could have added to PSNI's tally but manager Ian Campbell was delighted to see his side make the semi-finals.
"They had periods where they threatened and our keeper made a couple of crucial saves, but overall I thought we were worthy winners," Campbell said after the game.
The PSNI boss added that he felt there was nothing untoward about the bets placed earlier in the day.
Foundry counterpart Hugh Sinclair was of the same opinion.
Campbell said: "You could see the commitment from both teams. I didn't see any players out there who weren't giving 100 per cent on either team.
"People probably fancied us at those odds.
"But that'll be seen for what it is now - bookies trying to cover their tails."
Albert Foundry: Hughes, McClean, Gardenier, Burns, Beck, Mitchell, West (Neil 76), Atkinson, Clarke (W McComb 70), Acheson, D McComb (S Martin 50). Subs not used: Doyle, J Martin.
PSNI: Harrison, McCullagh, McCrory (Kirk 79), J Wright, A Wright, McWilliams, Anderson, Hutchinson, McDowell (Nixon 70), Adamczyk, Roohi (Moody 54). Subs not used: McKim, Williamson.
Man of the Match: Stuart Hutchinson (PSNI)
Match rating: 6/10