Cliftonville 1 - 2 Ballymena United

Irish Cup - Round 6
Saturday, February 7th, 2015, 3:00 PM at Solitude
Referee: Colin Burns
Cliftonville Ballymena United

Goalscorers
George McMullan (pen.) (47) David Cushley (90)
David Cushley (90)

Team Managers
Tommy Breslin Glenn Ferguson

Starting Eleven
Peter Cherrie
Marc Smyth
Ronan Scannell
Jaimie McGovern
Ryan Catney
George McMullan
Martin Donnelly
Jude Winchester
Tomas Cosgrove
Joe Gormley
Jay Donnelly
Tim Allen
Jim Ervin
Jonathan Taylor
Patrick McNally
Stephen McBride
Tony Kane
Allan Jenkins
Neal Gawley
David Cushley
Gary McCutcheon
Matthew Tipton

Bench
Robert Bayly
Caoimhin Bonner
James Knowles
Martin Murray
Sean McGarron
Dwayne Nelson
Alan Teggart
Brian McCaul
Gary Thompson
Darren Henderson

Substitutions
Robert Bayly for Jude Winchester (85) Darren Henderson for Gary McCutcheon (68)
Gary Thompson for Neal Gawley (68)

Bookings
None. Jonathan Taylor (59)
Stephen McBride (61)
Patrick McNally (78)
Gary Thompson (86)

Red Cards
None. None.
Appearances & Goals To Date
Tim Allen (GK) 1 app (debut) -
Patrick McNally 2 apps -
Jonathan Taylor 98 apps11 goals
Tony Kane 140 apps8 goals
Stephen McBride 49 apps -
Jim Ervin 22 apps1 goal
Neal Gawley 39 apps3 goals
Allan Jenkins 149 apps29 goals
Matthew Tipton 37 apps16 goals
David Cushley 188 apps49 goals
Gary McCutcheon 95 apps51 goals
Gary Thompson (sub) 101 apps13 goals
Darren Henderson (sub) 51 apps17 goals

Starting Lineup
Youngest Player:Patrick McNally (20 years 176 days)
Oldest Player:Gary McCutcheon (36 years 131 days)
Average Player Age:28 years 328 days
Domestic Players:7 (63.64 % of starting eleven)

Matchday Squad
Youngest Player:Patrick McNally (20 years 176 days)
Oldest Player:Gary McCutcheon (36 years 131 days)
Average Player Age:28 years 156 days
Domestic Players:12 (75.00 % of matchday squad)

BALLYMENA United came from behind to knock Cliftonville out of the Irish Cup at Solitude on Saturday with David Cushley scoring two late free kicks to seal the win.

The opening exchanges were fairly open with both sides forcing half chances without really threatening. Debutant goalkeeper Tim Allen looked assured from the outset, dealing with any balls into the box in a calm and confident manner. The Australian made his first save to deny Jay Donnelly early on, which set the tone for a frustrating afternoon for the young Cliftonville striker.

Ballymena's first real opportunity came with a quarter of an hour on the clock, Neal Gawley's corner found Allan Jenkins in the box but the United skipper could only screw his effort wide of goal. Cliftonville began to exert a spell of pressure, but committed defending from both United centre backs ensured the score remained level. Joe Gormley almost got the better of Tim Allen with just over half an hour on the clock but his looping header failed to hit the target.

David Cushley went close to opening the scoring for United on 38 minutes but his powerful effort from the edge of the box deflected out for a corner which was cleared. Martin Donnelly was denied by Tim Allen in the United goal as half time approached when the debutant caught the Reds winger's rasping effort at the second attempt, in an excellent display of handling. Allen again produced a fine save barely a minute later when Jay Donnelly found himself bearing down on goal, but for the second time in the game, the young striker found his effort stopped by the big Aussie.

United were hit with a sucker punch on 47 minutes when referee Colin Burns adjudged David Cushley to have fouled Joe Gormley on the ground when replays suggest the Cliftonville striker may simply have fallen over the United midfielder's body. Tim Allen almost got a hand to George McMullan's sweetly struck effort but the ball was well enough placed to nestle in the far corner and give the home side the lead.

Cushley himself was denied what appeared to be a stonewall penalty soon after when he was felled from behind by Jaimie McGovern but the referee, linesman and additional assistant behind the goal failed to spot the infringement, much to the United fans' consternation. This anger was fuelled further barely a minute later when a blatant handball in the box blocked Neal Gawley's corner right in front of additional assistant referee Damien Basketfield. At this point all luck seemed to have deserted Ballymena, with many Sky Blue fans once more begrudgingly accepting that it just wasn't to be their day.
Cliftonville went in search of an insurance second goal but again found Tim Allen in inspired form. Jay Donnelly's raced clear on 68 minutes but a combination of Stephen McBride and the United goalkeeper saw the ball cleared, much to Ballymena's relief. Allen produced a fine double stop on 74 minutes, first denying Jay Donnelly's effort before a superb reaction save to prevent his namesake Martin's bullet like header.

Ballymena could have snatched a leveller against the run of play on 82 minutes only for substitute Darren Boyce to blaze Allan Jenkins' cross over the bar when unmarked in the box. The turning point in the game came just minutes later when Tim Allen produced his best save of the afternoon, somehow touching Jay Donnelly's placed effort onto the post and out to keep his side in the game.
This inspired United to go all out attack for the last ten minutes in spirited hope of forcing extra time. This hope had almost evaporated with 90 minutes on the clock and Ballymena still trailing, only for the Sky Blues to be awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Tony Kane laid the ball off to David Cushley, whose deflected effort flew into the far corner of the net to spark wild scenes of jubilation in the away end.

Incredibly, the best was still to come as United were awarded another free kick in similar position with 94 minutes elapsed. The same free kick routine was played out with Cushley this time unleashing an unstoppable effort into the top corner, beating Reds goalkeeper Peter Cherrie all ends up and ensuring pandemonium amongst the United supporters, who could scarcely believe their team has scored one, never mind two free kicks in injury time!
The reward for this most dramatic of Irish Cup wins is a trip to Championship One side Harland and Wolff Welders in the Quarter Finals on February 28th.

Match report written by Jordan Miller

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