Crusaders 3 Newry City 2
Crusaders seem to relish making their fans suffer before putting them out of their misery.
Goalkeeper Chris Keenan gave Newry City a helping hand with some poor decision making but, thankfully for the Crues, they have formidable firepower in the shape of master and apprentice, David Rainey and Stuart Dallas.
This time, the Crues were not forced to show their fighting spirit when down to 10 men, but they did concede a 85th minute equaliser to get the nerves jangling again.
Just when a replay appeared certain, Rainey smashed in an injury time winner to book a Sixth Round tie at home to Amateur League Nortel.
“The early goal settled the nerves and to get the winner is amazing,” said two-times Irish Cup winner Rainey.
“The first one was sitting up to be hit and I managed to put it in the space I wanted to.
“All the boys have been great with me and it’s just great to be back playing again and scoring goals. I’m sorry I’ve missed a lot of games. 2010 was terrible for me — I ended up with five goals all year. I just want to write that year off and push on until May and see what I can do.”
Rainey grabbed a brace — his first strike was a sweet left-foot volley — but Tommy McCallion’s goal direct from a corner shocked the hosts.
Dallas’ goal underlined his finishing power, but Alan Davidson threatened to ruin the party when he pounced after Keenan came charging out of his goal with no reward.
Rainey, as he has done so often in his career, came up with the knockout blow.
“The best Irish Cup memories are here,” added Rainey. “I won it with the Glens, but winning it with these boys was just immense. We would love to go there again, but it’s a long way off and we know we have to work hard.”
City chief Gerry Flynn says his side need a change in luck to lift spirits at the Showgrounds.
“We haven’t been getting what our play has deserved in recent weeks and the goal before half-time should have given us a lift,” he said.
“We didn’t keep it tight, we gave away another bad goal and although we showed character to come back into it, we couldn’t hold on for the replay.
“People must take responsibility for what they have to do, but we gifted them a goal in injury time and when you are down where we are you don’t seem to get the rub of the green.”
Crusaders will be without the suspended Colin Coates and Gareth McKeown for their Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-final clash at Ballymena United tomorrow night.
However, Jordan Owens is available for selection again after serving his six-match ban. David Magowan will return to the heart of the Crues defence.