NEWCASTLE UTD 2
(Fermanagh won 3-0 on pens)
By Rod Nawn
IN a drama-packed finish to its Vase semi-final with Newcastle United in the Super Cup NI, Fermanagh’s Premier side won a penalty shootout to reach the subsidiary competition final on Friday evening.
Fermanagh believed it had grabbed an injury-time winner through Jonny Vennard only for the north-east Premier League club’s Academy team to be awarded a penalty within a minute. Jude Cogdon fired past replacement ‘keeper Alex McClelland to make it 2-2 at the final whistle of a roller-coaster 80 minutes full of incident.
The tie went immediately to penalties and the English visitors missed all three of their penalties, McClelland making one spectacular save, and Fermanagh’s Callum St Ledger, Dan O’Connor and skipper Adam Cathcart clinically converting to spark boisterous celebrations from players, coaches and a substantial support at The Warren.
Head Coach Keith Douglas and his assistants were unable to play Adam Armstrong, who suffered a serious ankle problem, after an horrific tackle in the Manchester United game 24 hours earlier, and Kelan Kernaghan and Odhran McGovern due to suspension.
Fermanagh took the game to Newcastle from the start and when Corey Porter saw his piledriver handled a penalty was awarded. Skipper Adam Cathcart saw his 9th minute spot kick saved but, following up, he hammered his side in front.
As Newcastle tried to respond Ewan Mackie, Corey Porter and the immense Oisin Keenan typified the determination and commitment of the county side.
Jamie Edwards saw his 26th minute free kick from 35 yards scream just over the United crossbar, and minutes later at the other end ‘keeper Ross Thompson bravely dived at the feet of a huge striker, taking a blow to the face which would eventually see him withdrawn at the interval.
Five minutes from the break Newcastle levelled. Keenan and Thompson faltered, and Guy Bloomer took advantage of the confusion for the equaliser.
The second half, with McClelland now in goal and making a vital save low to his left immediately, was all about Newcastle trying to impose its physical superiority.
But the defence, midfield and the Fermanagh forward unit tackled firmly, used the ball well to launch the occasional counter, and after St Ledger tried a snapshot from distance it was Keenan yet again in the right place with two important blocks.
Two minutes into injury time Fermanagh broke away, neat inter-passing setting up Vennard to grab what seemed the winner from long range.
Then that dramatic finale, a Newcastle equaliser and the teams forced into a penalty shootout.
Deservedly, though, Fermanagh emerged victors, a second win of the week celebrated and a Vase Final date with St Kevin’s on Friday in Coleraine (5 p.m.)
CO FERMANAGH: Ross Thompson (McClelland, 41), Oisin Keenan, Bruce Lennox, Ryan Mackie, Jamie Edwards, Corey Porter, Adam Cathcart (capt), Tadgh Britton (Vennard, 73), Fionn Stroud (Funston, 55), Callum St Ledger.
Substitutes: Alex McClelland, Ethan Kavanagh, Jonny Vennard, Harry Funston
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