Athletic advance in cup after dramatic penalty shoot-out victory

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Strabane Athletic ........ 1 Hatmore Harps ............. 1
(Athletic won 5-4 on penalties)


Having finished their league campaign, Strabane Athletic turned their attention to the end of season O'Bryan Cup and secured a narrow victory over Premiership rivals, Hatmore Harps, winning the tie after a penalty shoot-out.
An explosive start to the game saw Porter pressed and won the ball off the Harps centre half and coolly stroke the ball past the goalkeeper to put the hosts a goal up after only 20 seconds.
The home side joy was short-lived as Harps attacked from the restart and despite a fine one-handed save by Early, O'Hagan was quickest to the rebound and equalised with ease.
Early was back in action on 25 minutes with a fine double save to keep the scores level. In attack, Athletic created chances of their own but the visiting goalkeeper did well to deny Porter, Breslin and McBrearty from netting a lead goal.
Action in the second half was a midfield battle with both teams evenly matched. DiCondio and Doherty did not shirk the physical challenge which saw both teams concede a series of free-kicks.
Neither team tested the opposing goalkeeper to any great degree throughout though Athletic looked more likely to create a winner as the visitors tired, although a Gamble tackle inside the box could have resulted in a penalty with only 15 minutes remaining. Late on, Patterson and Taylor combined well on the left but a last-ditch block was a close as either side came to going in front and the game required extra-time.
Carlin provided Porter with an early chance but the Harps goalkeeper made a smart save, low to his left. Defensively, Athletic were always focused as Gamble, Gallagher, Bonner and Patterson formed a solid rearguard to protect Early.
In the second period of extra-time, Harps were again grateful to their goalkeeper for making another good save to stop Carlin when he was set up by Doherty. The striker then failed to keep his shot on target when found by a fine pass from Porter. In the last minute, Gamble produced a stunning tackle to nick the ball as O'Hagan set himself to shoot and so the game ended level, with penalties required to decide the result.
Early saved the opening strike by Harp's Friel and when each Athletic player,  Patterson, Carlin, Peoples, Gallagher and Gamble scored it meant the local side progress to the quarter final which was played last night (Tuesday).
Team: Early, Bonner, O.Gallagher, Gamble, Patterson, DiCondio, D.Doherty, Taylor, McBrearty, Breslin, Porter, Lynch, Carlin, Peoples , C.Gallagher, A.Doherty


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