Penalty drama as Larne progress after Jonny Tuffey's dismissal

Larne progressed to Friday's Irish Cup final following a controversial penalty shootout win over Crusaders at Mourneview Park.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 6:28 pm
Updated Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 6:30 pm

Goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey was remarkably dismissed after picking up two yellow cards during the shootout as the officials deemed he had come off his line three times.

Crues boss Stephen Baxter, who also had Adam Lecky sent off during the game, was understandably angry at the call and looked as though he made a call for his players to leave the pitch.

But they stayed on with Billy Joe Burns taking over in goal.

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Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter remonstrates with referee Shane Andrews

It was Larne though who kept their nerve in sudden death as Gary Thompson's spot kick struck the woodwork to seal the win for Larne.

Chances were at a premium in the first 20 minutes though as the sides tried to get a foothold in the game.

Larne were looking dangerous from corners though and went close on 21 minutes as Mark Randall's deep set-piece was met by Albert Watson.

His powerful header was off target and Jeff Hughes couldn't get enough on the ball to direct it towards goal.

Two minutes later Donnelly picked out Ronan Hale in the box, but his first-time snapshot flew narrowly over the bar.

The deadlock was broken with 27 minutes played and came from the Crues first real sortie into the Larne box.

Jarlath O'Rourke played a quick free kick out to Ben Kennedy on the left, and his excellent cross was poked home by Philip Lowry.

As half-time approached Josh Robinson had to be alert to hook away a loose ball as Larne failed to deal with a Kennedy corner.

Robinson did enough to put off Lowry on 43 minutes after Jordan Forsythe had picked him out from the edge of the box.

Tiernan Lynch introduced Johnny McMurray at the break in a bid to get more attacking impetus, and 40 seconds after the restart Fuad Sule forced Tuffey into a save at his near post.

At the other end only the woodwork denied the Crues extending their advantage as Ross Clarke weaved his way into the box before curling an effort against the far post.

As we headed towards the hour mark though Larne drew themselves level and it was that man Hale who grabbed another goal against his former employers.

He was alert to pick up a loose ball before firing low past Tuffey from the edge of the box.

The Crues keeper then kept his side in the semi-final with two great saves in quick succession.

McMurray nicked the ball off Billy Joe Burns before racing clear, but his shot was blocked by Tuffey.

He stood up again seconds later to deny Hale, after an exquisite pass from Hughes put him clear.

The Crues suffered a huge blow with 15 minutes to go as Lecky was shown a straight red card for a challenge on Sule.

For Stephen Baxter's men now it was all about staying in the game as we entered into the dying stages.

They were dealing well with everything thrown at them, but they were almost unlocked three minutes from time as Donnelly picked out the run of Hale, but he couldn't control in front of goal.

No more goals arrived so it was on to penalties and the drama.

Hale and Donnelly scored for Larne with Kennedy and McGonigle responding.

McMurray was first to miss but he was followed by Burns after O'Rourke and Hughes had converted.

But then the drama started as Tuffey saved from Mitchell, who had been brought on to hit a penalty.

But he was deemed to have come off his line, so it was taken again and the midfielder scored, but more was to follow after Larmour levelled things up again.

Josh Robinson was next up and again Tuffey saved, but again a retake was ordered and the keeper was booked much to his consternation.

Remarkably though he saved the retake, but the assistant said he was off his line again, and referee Shane Andrews produced a second yellow and dismissed the stopper.

Captain Burns took over between the sticks and he couldn't do anything about Robinson's third attempt.

Rodney Brown and John Herron scored to put the pressure on Gary Thompson, who smashed the bar with his effort to send the Inver Park outfit into Friday's final.

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