Adamson goal sets up Irish Cup replay

Crusaders Timmy Adamson celebrates scoring against Linfield during Saturday's Irish Cup 5th round match  at Windsor Park
Crusaders Timmy Adamson celebrates scoring against Linfield during Saturday's Irish Cup 5th round match at Windsor Park

FOUR goals - including one after only 11 seconds - a sending off and a smidgeon of controversy - Irish Cup fever well and truly descended on Windsor Park on Saturday.

Linfield and Crusaders have it all to do again after a pulsating 2-2 draw at the international stadium.

Gary McCutcheon gave Crusaders the lead after only 11 seconds only for Brian McCaul to level for the Blues with a close-range finish.

Matthew Tipton nosed the Blues in front with a controversial goal in the 32nd minute but Timmy Adamson ensured the replay with a predatory finish in the second half.

Linfield also had defender Johnny Black shown a straight red card for a rash challenge on Aidan Watson while Crusaders goalkeeper Sean O’Neill dislocated his collarbone during the build-up to McCaul’s first-half equaliser.

Both managers took time to slowly exhale before reflecting on 90 minutes of tense cup action.

“It was a great game of football that had a bit of everything. It was excellent to watch and it was snappy - and everyone wanted to win. That’s what football is all about for me,” beamed Crues boss Stephen Baxter.

“It is 90 minutes of hard football, but at the end there is mutual respect between the two teams.

“I enjoy these kinds of games. It is theatre.

“We are all shouting and screaming on the sidelines, and you think we are going to go to war. But it is the heat of battle and afterwards you calm down and shake hands.”

McCutcheon was afforded the grace of Windsor to rush clear and slot past Alan Blayney inside the first minute.

Linfield were level when McCaul tapped home in the 19th minute after O’Neill could only spill Tipton’s initial shot - a save that looks set to end the Crusaders goalkeeper’s season.

It was 2-1 to the home side in the 32nd minute when Tipton - who appeared in an offside position - had his shot saved by Chris Morrow - only for referee Colin Burns to adjudge the ball to have crossed the line.

Black was then shown a straight red card for a lunge on Aidan Watson in the 41st minute - the Crues midfielder also being forced off with a nasty injury.

Crusaders restored parity in the 55th minute, with Adamson finishing from close range after his initial bicycle kick rebounded off the post.

The Crues could have claimed the win - Paul Heatley had a one-on-one saved by Blayney and David Rainey somehow missed the target with a header in the last minute.

Blues boss David Jeffrey admitted Saturday’s cup duel was “exhausting” to watch.

“There is a great rivalry now between these two teams. It is fascinating and it is blood and thunder - no doubt,” Jeffrey said.

“It is good craic on the sidelines, but there is great respect too. There are times I tell you boys I am mellowing with age. I am getting older and wiser and all that.

“Then there are times I am getting worse. But it exhausts me now - you come in wrecked after a game.”

LINFIELD: Blayney, Gault, Murphy, Carvill, Burns, Tipton, Mulgrew, Watson, McCaul, McAllister, Black.

Subs not used: Lowry, Fordyce, Browne, Ervin, Clarke.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill (Morrow 23), McKeown, McBride, Magowan, Coates, Robinson, Caddell, Watson (Snoddy 44), Heatley, Adamson, McCutcheon (Rainey 86).

Subs not used: Leeman, McCready.

Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey)