DCSIMG

Armagh denied a massive cup victory with late goal at Holm Park

Ards boss Niall Currie was sent from the sidelines

Ards boss Niall Currie was sent from the sidelines

Ards grabbed a dramatic late equaliser deep into extra-time at Holm Park on Saturday to keep their Irish Cup hopes alive.

The Premiership outfit looked to be heading for defeat against Championship Two side Armagh City but a 95th-minute equaliser from Craig McMillan saved their blushes.

In a forgettable first-half both teams cancalled each other out and there were few goalscoring opportunities.

On the stroke of half-time, however, the pattern of the match completely changed when the Holm Park outfit failed to cut out a low cross into the box following a free-kick and James Knowles popped up to squeeze home the opener from eight yards out.

Armagh finally got their act together after the break and hit two quick scores to rattle the senior opposition.

The first came on 49 minutes when Stephen Murray and Philip Donnelly combined to set up Matthew Hynds who volleyed the ball home from close range at the back-post.

And, just three minutes later, City made it 2-1, when hard-working srtiker Murray fired home from 10-yards after a perfect ball into the box by Eamon Kelly.

Armagh were dominating at this stage and should have increased their lead on 69 minutes when Donnelly scooped the ball over the crossbar from just 10-yards out.

And, moments later, Hynds missed another glorious opportunity as Ards struggled to keep slick City at bay.

Armagh suffered a severe setback on 83 minutes, however, when impressive central defender Dara Noonan was given his marching orders after receiving a second yellow card from Belfast whistler Keith Kennedy.

And Ards manager Niall Currie soon followed after his complaints over a turned down penalty failed to impress the ref.

With the extra-man Ards began to assert themselves once again but Armagh looked comfortable and seemed to have booked their place in the sixth round.

But the visitors kept plugging away and, on 95 minutes, McMillan was left free at the back-post and his low shot went through a ruck of players before creeping over the goal-line.

The ref immediately blew the whistle for full-time and Ards had survived to fight again.

However, Armagh will be disappointed as they had several other clear-cut chances to seal the tie.

The replay will take place next Tuesday at Holm Park.

 

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