Glenn Ferguson wrote another historic chapter in the story of his glittering career last night — but in a game that he would rather forget.
The striker would probably swap his history making goal for a place in the quarter-finals of the Irish Cup.
When Ferguson fired home to put Lisburn Distillery 2-1 up five minutes into the second-half of their sixth round replay with Ballinamallard United, Tommy Wright’s men looked to be on their way to the last eight.
But three goals in the final 13 minutes from the Fermanagh men — Andy Crawford, a former Windsor Park team mate of Ferguson’s, completing his hat trick after grabbing his side’s opener — means that it is the minnows who will face Crusaders in the quarter-finals on Saturday week.
Ferguson (pictured), undoubtedly the greatest Irish League marksman of modern times, has been guaranteed his place in the annals of local footballing legends for some years and he is now the second highest goalscorer of all time in Northern Ireland football.
His 563rd career goal moved the 41-year-old former Linfield star ahead of another Windsor Park legend, the late Joe Bambrick, in the scoring charts.
Only Jimmy Jones — a hero with Belfast Celtic and Glenavon in the immediate post-war era — is now in front of Ferguson. With 646 goals to his name it is unlikely Jones will ever be overtaken.
Had David Cushley not been denied by Ballinamallard goalkeeper Matthew Quinn, Ferguson may have had to wait for his latest big moment, but he was there to lash the ball into the roof of the net to claim another slice of history.
But Whitey Anderson's side deservedly go into the quarter-finals for the first time in their history.
Crawford was the The Mallards hero with that hat-trick.
“It's simply brilliant,” said Crawford. “Brilliant for the club and for Fermanagh.
“The club have done a brilliant job here, new pitch, new stand and I am loving it here.”
Ferney Park was rocking when Crawford put The Mallards ahead on 12 minutes. Conor McGuigan sent the former Omagh Town winger clear and he slipped the ball under Billy Brennan.
Four minutes after that opener Chris Curran beat Brennan with an angled drive that came off the upright.
On 37 minutes a super dummy from Ferguson enabled Gary Thompson to break into the box and fire home.
But United weren't done and McGuigan tested Brennan from the re-start but although they went in level at the break the home side should have been several goals to the good.
Curran fired wide just seconds into the second half before the Whites took the lead.
Quinn made a good stop to
deny Cushley but there was Ferguson to lash the ball in for that historic goal.
But The Mallards levelled from the spot on 77 minutes after a Mark Patton foul, Michael Kerr converting. The Whites were down to 10 men three minutes later after a second yellow card for Jordan Forsythe.
Crawford smacked in the third and five minutes from time Wright's men were out as the ex-Linfield striker capitalised when Brennan couldn't gather.
The terrific reaction from the crowd at the end said it all.
“City boys,” laughed Crawford, looking ahead to the Crusaders match. “And they will not enjoy coming from the city to the sticks.”
Manager Whitey Anderson added: “Something sparked and after the penalty we were in control. A magnificent result.”
Lisburn Distillery: Brennan, Callaghan, Hunter, Simpson, Devlin, Forsythe, G Thompson, Kilmartin, Patton, Ferguson, Cushley. Subs: Matthews, Boyle, Davidson, Cooling, S.Thompson.
Ballinamallard United: Quinn, McConkey, Kerr, Cartres, Stafford, G Hutchinson S Hutchinson, Curran, McGuigan, Crawford, Higgenbotham. Subs: Morrison, Khan, Harper, Crilly, Chambers.
Referee: Arnold Hunter (Maguiresbridge).