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Warrenpoint roar back to pull off great escape

Warrenpoint Town 2-0 Bangor W’point won 3-1 on pens (agg 2-2)

By Gareth McCullough

Published 02/05/2015

Hero: Stephen Hughes hit the winning penalty for Point
Hero: Stephen Hughes hit the winning penalty for Point

Warrenpoint Town retained their place in the Danske Bank Premiership after a penalty shoot-out victory in an action-packed promotion/relegation play-off second leg at Milltown last night.

After Mark Cooling, Grant Gardiner and Andy Hall missed for Bangor, Stephen Hughes converted the winning spot-kick to keep Barry Gray's men in the Premiership for another season.

Warrenpoint almost got a goal after just 23 seconds when Stephen Hughes cracked in a shot that beat Bangor keeper Darren Gibbons but hit the crossbar.

However, it took just 12 minutes for the hosts to open the scoring when Daniel Hughes found space down the left to cut the ball back to his brother Stephen. His initial shot was parried by Gibbons but Conor McDonald was on hand to poke home.

Bangor spurned a good chance to get an all-important away goal two minutes into the second half when Barry Walsh played in Andy Long but his shot was weak.

At the other end, Jonathan Cowan's header was straight at Gibbons before Mark Hughes scuffed his effort on goal.

Gibbons made the best save of the night with a quarter of an hour to go when John McGuigan got on the end of a Dermot McVeigh cross but his goal-bound header was superbly pushed out by the keeper.

However, a minute later the sides were level in the tie when McVeigh rose to power home a header from Mark Hughes' corner to make it 2-0 on the night and 2-2 on aggregate.

Bangor nearly got the goal that inevitably would have seen them promoted when Andy Morrow flashed in a header but Jonathan Parr did superbly well to save and the game went to extra time.

With a couple of chances in the first period for Warrenpoint, things exploded two minutes into the second period when Daniel Hughes dived in for a tackle and that led to a scuffle that eventually saw Bangor sub Eddie McCallion shown a second yellow card and subsequent red.

After play restarted, John McGuigan went agonisingly close with a header for Warrenpoint before Daniel Hughes smacked the post on 114 minutes.

Daniel Hughes was then dismissed for a second yellow card of his own after showing dissent in the final minute of extra time.

Conor McDonald then nearly won it in the third minute of injury time with a low drive that Gibbons once again dived full length to push out for a corner.

Then came the lottery of penalties with Hughes the hero for Warrenpoint.

Warrenpoint Town: Parr, Cowan (Smith 82), McDonald, S Hughes, Boyle, McVeigh, Bagnall, M Hughes, D Hughes, Devlin (McGuigan 72), King (Moan H-T). Subs not used: Smith, Frazer, Forsyth

Bangor: Gibbons, Youle, Pike (McCallion 55), Wray, Nixon, Walsh, Hall, Cooling, Morrow, Boylan (McDowell 41), Long. Subs not used: Melly, Gardiner, Chapman.

Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).

Belfast Telegraph

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