Ballyclare Comrades’ three new signings - Craig Reid, Ben Browne and Eoin King - all made their debut in Saturday’s 3-1 Irish Cup fifth-round win over Annagh United.
Ballyclare’s reward is a home draw against Premiership side Dungannon Swifts.
On a bitterly cold afternoon with wind and snow flurries, the Comrades quickly adapted to the 3G surface and were a goal up in the 10th minute when Gary Brown’s cross was met by Randal Reid.
Almost straight from the restart Brown’s persistence paid off when he beat ‘keeper Fox to the ball and nonchalantly chipped over him to make it 2-0.
Johnny McClurg missed a golden opportunity to increase the lead, mis-kicking when attempting to connect with a Joel Cooper cross.
Cooper was denied in the 39th minute after the lively left-winger had cut through the defence. He was in the action again just before the break when he put Randal Reid in, but the big striker fired straight at the ‘keeper.
Ballyclare started the second half confidently with Cooper firing into the side-netting, but suddenly Annagh were back in contention in the 54th minute, when former Ballymena United and Linfield striker Shea Campbell tucked the ball neatly under Jonah Nicholl.
Three minutes later only a goal-line clearance by Chris Getty, followed by a fine save by Nicholl, prevented the hosts from drawing level.
Full-back Craig Reid overlapped and crossed for Cooper to head just off-target and the winger went close again when his fierce volley skimmed the bar.
Brown settled Ballyclare’s nerves three minutes from time, when he drilled in number three after new signings Kane and Browne had split the defence wide open.
Reds’ boss Eddie Hill said: “The new players all fitted in well, and after we scored those two early goals Annagh were always chasing the game.”
Ballyclare Comrades: Nicholl; C Reid, Doyle, Getty, Buckley; G Brown, McIlveen, McGowan, Cooper; McClurg, R Reid. Subs: B Browne for McClurg 59’, Kane for R Reid 75’. Not used: Gray, McCart, McIlwaine.
On behalf of all associated with the Comrades, chairman Trevor McCann sent best wishes to former Ballyclare player Scott Irvine who suffered a serious head injury at Inver Park while playing for Larne, and everyone hopes that he will soon be back in action again.
McCann also wishes to thank all those who contributed generously to raise £533.83 for Cancer Focus NI at the recent 1914 Truce Commemoration event at Dixon Park.