The possibility of a shock banana skin result momentarily came to mind when Amateur League outfit Newcastle forged ahead in the opening seconds of their Intermediate Cup clash with Ballyclare Comrades, but there was no fairytale ending.
A double by top striker Chris Trussell, and goals form Denver Gage and Kyle Agnew secured the comprehensive 4-1 win, that earned Comrades a place in the quarter-final.
Manager Eddie Hill had to make several enforced changes, with goalkeeper Jonah Nicholl coming in for Paddy Flood, while in defence skipper Andrew Doyle and Darren Doherty made way for coach Stuart McClean and Chris Getty. Adam Gray was also preferred to Andy Simms in midfield.
The Reds were one down in the first 20 seconds at Shimna College when rookie keeper Nicholl had to retrieve the ball from the net after Mulholland tucked it past him as he advanced off his line.
The hosts piled on the pressure, and Nicholl was glad to see efforts from Gribben and Bonny rebound off the woodwork.
Gribben was proving to be a handful for the Comrades defence, and only a courageous dive by Nicholl at the talisman’s feet in the 24th minute prevented a second score.
In further home advances Nicholl again twice saved smartly from Gribben, before Comrades mounted their first serious attack that produced the equaliser - very much against the run of play.
The ball fell nicely for Trussell from a Gray corner and he gave Dalar no chance from close range.
The Reds nosed ahead in the 39th minute, when Gage buried his header into the net from a Daniel Smith corner.
Within a minute of the restart Kyle Agnew converted a Kyle Buckley cross to make it 3-1.
Trussell twice missed from favourable positions, but in the 57th minute he increased the lead, volleying home a cross from Gage.
It was now one-way traffic towards the home goal, and a Gray effort flashed just wide, but in a rare attack Gribben was once more denied by Nicholl who dived in at the striker’s feet.
“This was Newcastle’s cup final, and with the wind behind them they gave us a roasting in the early stages, but once we equalised there was going to be only one winner,” Hill said.
Ballyclare Comrades: Nicholl; McClean (Cooper 64), Getty, Gage, Buckley; Smith (Simms 58), McCart, McClurg, Gray; Agnew, Trussell. Subs not used: Wilkinson and Docherty.
On Saturday the Comrades are away to the Welders (3 pm), and a week later it will be the Irish Cup quarter-final against Crusaders at Seaview.