Belfast Telegraph

Armagh City 'so close' against Glentoran

Irish Cup Sixth Round replay

Glentoran 2 Armagh City 1: Armagh City boss Marty Rice heaped praise on his players after they came agonisingly close to booking their place in the Irish Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Glentoran.

Trailing to a Jay Magee penalty, the Eagles levelled through Stephen Murray and almost edged in front when Phillip Donnelly drew an excellent stop from Elliott Morris with just three minutes left on the clock.

That save would prove crucial because, almost immediately afterwards, David Scullion bagged the goal which sent the cup holders through and left the Championship 2 side reflecting on what might have been.

"We were very close to dreamland," said Rice, whose side had ousted Premiership opponents Ards in the previous round.

"I thought we were taking the game into extra-time, where we could have won it.

"I suppose we just ran out of legs but we played four games against Premier League opposition and have given a very good account of ourselves.

"I felt if we could have got our noses in front we could have gone on to win the tie. My players showed great character after falling behind and on another day we could have got a positive result."

The Glens pulled ahead a minute before the interval when Dale Montgomery's foul on Aaron Boyd allowed Magee to stroke home from the spot.

But resilient Armagh responded well and levelled late on when former Oval favourite Kevin Keegan supplied the telling ball from which Murray was able to get the better of Morris.

The keeper certainly proved his worth by denying Donnelly soon afterwards and Glentoran's best chance of securing victory inside the 90 minutes appeared to have come and gone when midfielder Stephen McAlorum's snapshot clattered against the Armagh crossbar.

There was, however, still time left for Eddie Patterson's side to break City's hearts and that's exactly what they did when Scullion touched William Garrett's cross beyond the helpless Sean Morgan with the clock having ticked into injury-time.

Relief rather than joy was the over-riding emotion among the home faithful come the final whistle and boss Patterson warned that a similar display in next Monday's quarter-final will not be tolerated.

"If we play against Glenavon like we did in the second half against Armagh, we'll not last too long," said Patterson, who had been frustrated to see a Curtis Allen attempt chalked off for offside during the game.

"I couldn't see how it was offside because the ball was played back from near the by-line and he was quite a bit out from the goal," he added.

Even match-winner Scullion had sympathy and admiration for Armagh.

"They made it very hard for us," he said. "We were the better side in the first half but they came out in the second and played really well. They had a lot of chances."

Glentoran: Morris, Garrett, Magee, Birney, Hill, Clarke, Scullion, McAlorum, McGuigan (O'Hanlon, 80 mins), Boyd (Henderson, 66 mins), Allen. Unused subs: Miskimmin, Stewart, Addis.

ARMAGH: Morgan, Montgomery, Lennon, Noonan, Carvill, Kelly, Cullen, Donnelly, Grimley, Murray, Hynds (Keegan, 80 mins). Unused subs: McBurney, Judge, McNamee, Daly.

Referee: Colin Burns (Comber)

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