Ballyclare Comrades eased in to the quarter-final of the Intermediate Cup with a whopping 5-1 win against Coagh United at Dixon Park.
Chris Trussell weighed in with a brace, with the other goals coming from recent recruit Mark Shannon and midfielder Johnny McClurg, plus a goalkeeper’s own goal.
This was a welcome win following four consecutive league defeats, and it proved to be a memorable debut for third-choice teenage goalkeeper Ross McKnight, who was thrust into the limelight with Paddy Flood and Paul Hughes cup-tied.
Shannon played at left midfield and proved his versatility by opening the scoring in the 14th minute when Randal Reid and Trussell combined to create space for the newcomer to arrow the ball into the bottom corner.
Ten minutes later McClurg doubled the lead with a glancing near-post header and seconds later came a bizarre third goal. Keeper Farniok pulled off a stunning diving save to deny Michael O’Hanlon; John Dobbin pounced on the loose ball on the by-line and squared across the face of the goal, where the unfortunate keeper turned the ball into his own net.
Coagh hopes of an unlikely comeback soared in the 33rd minute when Reid was sent off for a high tackle, and moments later it was 3-1 when a striker drilled the ball into the net.
Despite being a man short the Reds continued to dominate, and Trussell rammed in number four on 54 minutes.
Late on Trussell took his season tally to nine when he completed the rout from close range.
“Although we turned round two up, the first half was our worst performance of the season. Thankfully we got it together in the second half, got the ball down, and you wouldn’t have thought that we had been playing with only 10 men for an hour.”
Ballyclare Comrades: McKnight; Brown, Getty (Wharry 59’), McCart (c), McDermott; O Hanlon, Dobbin, McClurg (McQuitty 59’), Shannon (Haskins 75’); Trussell, Reid. Subs not used: McMillan, C Woods.
Gary Brown was presented with the January Player of the Month trophy sponsored by the Comrades Supporters’ Club.
On Saturday Comrades are back at Dixon Park for a crucial clash with bottom-of-the pile, Donegal Celtic, who are favourites for relegation, but with the Reds only one point above the dreaded bottom four a close match is on the cards, kick-off 3.00 pm.