H & W WELDERS 1 ALBERT FOUNDRY 1
(AET, Welders won 4-1 on penalties)
Harland & Wolff Welders won their second Steel & Sons Cup in a dramatic Christmas morning cup final at Seaview.
Championship One club the Welders drew 1-1 with Amateur League outfit Albert Foundry in normal time, with Michael McLellan and Darren McCombe exchanging goals. Gary Smyth’s Welders, who lost to Carrick Rangers in last year’s final, kept their cool to win the penalty shoot-out 4-1, with substitute Chris Middleton hitting the winning spot-kick.
Plucky Albert Foundry can consider themselves desperately unlucky. The Paisley Park club had a number of chances to win the tie after McComb’s 73rd minute equaliser.
The Welders had the lead in the 33rd minute thanks to Michael McLellan’s 26th goal of the season. Captain William Armstrong played the ball to the striker’s feet, who muscled past a Foundry defender before tucking the ball home from an acute angle. It was a fine finish from the man widely considered to be the best player outside the Premiership.
The Welders almost had a second two-minutes into the half when an Armstrong cross was guided towards goal by the head of David Rainey, but the man of the match Cairnduff produced a wonderful outstretched save. Josh Cahoon tried to turn home the rebound, but Cairnduff made another save before the ball was hooked clear.
Albert Foundry produced an equaliser of the finest quality, with 17 minutes left. With pressure building, Ian West sent over a smart cross from the right-flank, picking out Darren McComb at the back post. The winger produced a wonderful chip from the corner of the six-yard box, that floated over Dougherty and into the net.
The Amateur League side could have won it in the 83rd minute when Marcus Beattie failed to connect with a free header, six yards from goal.
The Welders’ striker McLellan almost scored an incredible half-volley from 20-yards in the ninth minute of extra-time, but keeper Cairnduff produced another fine save. The second period of extra-time failed to produce a goal.
Substitute Neil Dougan scored the Welders first penalty, before Albert Foundry captain Paul Young hit the post.
Scott Davidson and Darren McComb exchanged goals before Michael McLellan made it 3-1 to the Welders. Foundry midfielder Bill Maxwell then saw his spot-kick crash off the crossbar, giving Chris Middleton the chance to wrap the game up. The Scottish-born winger tucked home spot-kick to give the Welders a 4-1 shoot-out win and the Steel & Sons Cup.
Harland & Wolff Welders: Dougherty; Dickson, Spence, McMurray, Armstrong; Rainey (78 Dougan), Harris (98 Devine), Deans (72 Middleton), Davidson; McLellan, Cahoon
Subs Not Used: Bowers, McMillan
Albert Foundry: Cairnduff; Corry, Burns, Moore, McAlinden (54 McCord); McComb, Maxwell, Harris, West; Mitchell (69 Beattie), Young
Subs Not Used: Sloan, Atcheson, Martin
Ref: Steven Taylor (Belfast)