There was more penalty heartbreak for Ballyclare Comrades at the weekend.
After losing in the Irish Cup shootout to Dungannon Swifts last week, the Reds were the victims again on Saturday when Lisburn Distillery won the Intermediate Cup tie 4-2 on spot-kicks.
When the scorecard was still blank after 120 minutes at Dixon Park, it was down to the dreaded penalty lottery in which the Whites’ marksmen were lethal with four straight hits. Ballyclare’s top scorer Chris Trussell and defender Andrew Doyle had theirs saved by Distillery ‘keeper Ryan McBride who was named Man of the Match.
Although the Reds dominated the first-half, McBride had a comparatively easy time owing to poor finishing.
During the first quarter Joel Cooper, Kyle Buckley and Simon McGowan all had long range efforts off target, while the Whites almost scored in their first foray in to the box in the 28th minute, when Jonah Nicholl was fortunate to scramble the ball clear off the line from McDonnell.
McBride made his first save in the 37th minute to deny Doyle and seconds later Nicholl did well to tip William Bingham’s drive over the bar.
The Comrades continued to call the shots in the second session with Cooper and Sam McIlveen firing wide. Eventually Cooper got one on target only for McBride to fingertip it round the post.
Home pressure intensified with the introduction of substitutes Trussell and CJ McIlwaine, but McBride was equal to the challenge, saving twice from Cooper and skipper Adam McCart.
In the third minute of added time Ballyclare almost snatched the winner, but McBride again came to the rescue when he kept out Andrew Simpson’s header from a Craig Reid cross.
Defences were on top in the 20 minutes of extra-time, The only item of note was a surge forward by McIlwaine who slipped the ball to Simpson, but his well-hit shot produced yet another smart save by the keeper.
Then came the fateful penalty shootout that ended the Comrades’ hopes of silverware for another season.
Ballyclare Comrades: Nicholl; C Reid, Doyle, McCart (C), Buckley; Brown (CJ McIlwaine), McGowan (Forsythe), McIlveen, Cooper; Simpson, R Reid (Trussell). Subs not used: E Hill, A Hill.
Ballyclare Supporters’ Club January Player of the Month award: Andrew Doyle.