A Clarence Cup upset seemed on the cards when Grange Rangers went two up in Kircubbin on Saturday, but the locals stormed back to book their place in round two.
By half-time the scores were level, and then the hosts netted the vital goal that secured the 3-2 win, but although they are in a higher Amateur League division, Kircubbin had to defend in depth in the closing stages.
Ally Bell opened the scoring on his debut, and soon afterwards Davy Thompson doubled the lead from a Matty King cross.
On the half-hour the locals pulled one back, and then fired in the equaliser just before the break. They netted what proved to be the winner in the 54th minute.
King, Marc Campbell and Stevie Rea all went close in the final quarter but were unable to take the tie in to extra-time.
Manager Stephen King said that the performance of new signing Ally Bell from Ballyclare Comrades’ youth team, and having Johnny Harkness from Ards on board as assistant-manager were positives, but that sloppy defending was once again his side’s Achilles heel.
On the debit side, Rangers have lost Stewart McConnell, Paul McFarlane, Paul McAllister, Robbie Murray, John Davey, Stephen Todd and Andy Gilmour who have all switched to 3rd Ballyclare OB.
Grange Rangers: Brown; Deegan, Leitch, White, McNair; Mulholland, Cooper (c), Thompson; King, Campbell, A Bell. Subs: Rea, Gregg, Harkness.
On Saturday Rangers host Bangor YM in a Division 2B clash.