Goalkeeper Jaime Knipe was the hero twice over as Portadown atoned for last year’s Linden Cup final defeat with a dramatic penalty shoot out win over Raphoe in a fantastic showcase at Deramore yesterday.
It contained some superb goals, a stunning comeback by Raphoe who had been 2-0 down and seemingly dead and buried, several green cards and four yellows, one of which turned into a red.
Then it was the turn of Knipe to take centre stage and he made three crucial saves in the penalty shoot out which went to sudden death and even that wasn’t short of controversy.
Knipe’s team mates thought he had won the match for the Ports when he saved Raphoe’s sixth stroke and his team mates dashed over to swamp their saviour.
However the umpire had awarded a re-take after Knipe had moved off his line but the keeper saved the second attempt and then his team mates were able to indulge in a full blown celebration for real.
“I knew straight away that the umpire had blown me for an infringement so it was then a matter of concentrating on the re-take.” said Knipe.
“I managed to call the Raphoe player’s bluff and he sent the ball in the opposite direction from his first effort and luckily I was able to make the save.”
But there was drama throughout the entire game which included two periods of extra time after the sides had finished level at 2-2 the after regulation 70 minutes.
Raphoe stormed back from 2-0 down and the pendulum seemed to have switched in their favour when the Ports were reduced to 10 men after Stuart Kirkland was sent off for two in the 66th minute.
“That gave us a great chance and we should have capitalised on the extra man but we then gave away two silly yellow cards which ultimately might have cost us the game,” said Raphoe manager Richard Eaton.
Goals from Stevie Johnston in the 28th minute and Adam Stevenson, from play, 60 seconds later made it 2-0 to the Ports.
Raphoe scored twice in quick succession on either side of the break with a brace of clinical Matthew Lecky set piece conversions to make it 2-2 before the dramatic shoot out after extra time failed to achieve a result.
“It was nerve wracking stuff but we are delighted to have got the win as it’s great for the players and the club.” said Ports coach Mark Evans.
“It was disappointing to throw away a two goal lead but all credit to Raphoe who showed fighting spirit.”