Hamilton seals cup win over the Ports

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GLENAVON 2 PORTADOWN 1

GARY Hamilton scored the winning goal to dump rivals Portadown out of the Irish Cup on Saturday.

Hamilton added to Brian McCaul’s opener and even the gaffer getting an unfortunate red card in injury time couldn’t silence the celebrations as Glenavon closed out a 2-1 victory.

Portadown had more possession and more chances, but Glenavon had more goals and that was all the mattered as the Blues set up a home tie against Crusaders in the last 16.

New loan signing Kyle Cherry made his debut alongside Cameron Grieve and Jonny Magee who came back into the starting 11 at the expense of Mark Turkington and the suspended Ciaran Doherty.

However, Glenavon didn’t begin the game well at Mourneview Park, and in the first-half there looked to be only one side in the reckoning as the Ports ran riot. Ronnie McFall’s side were creating chances almost at will, but without the injured Matthew Tipton, they lacked any sort of clinical edge.

In the very first minute, Neil McCafferty worked space in the box, only to be denied by Davey O’Hare who also caught Garry Breen’s header from the rebound.

Soon after, Brian Gartland powered a header at goal but again O’Hare was match to it, doing well to tip it onto the crossbar.

The away fans were off their seats on nine minutes as Matthew Paget rippled the net but unfortunately for them, they soon slumped back into their seats as they realised his back-post header found only the side-netting.

O’Hare then got some help from his defence after Brendan Shannon got in front of Ross Redman’s effort to deflect it over the bar. As half-time drew close, Jamie Tomelty finally beat the Glenavon keeper, but he didn’t beat the goal-frame as his shot cannoned off the post and rolled agonisingly across the face of goal.

Wesley Boyle was next up to frustrate the away support as he was played in but barely made contact with his tame shot that bobbled harmlessly into O’Hare’s arms.

The best that Glenavon had to offer had been a long-range Kyle Neill effort that flew wide of goal and they’d certainly have to step up their efforts if they were to make it through to the next round.

They certainly looked to bother the Ports right from kick-off in the second half, and took the lead in the 55th minute. Brian McCaul fed the ball out to Tony Grant on the left wing and, similar to McCaul’s strike last week, he then got on the end of Grant’s perfect cross to slide the ball past the keeper. Gary Hamilton had made a run to the near post and made a nice dummy to fool the defence and allow the ball to run through to the young winger.

After Kevin Braniff somehow escaped a second booking for a cynical trip on Niall Henderson, Gary Hamilton made it 2-0 to the home side.

Kyle Neill’s free-kick into the area was well won and headed across goal by Tony Grant for Hamilton to nod home unmarked six yards from goal.

The Blues went into defensive mode as they looked to see out the game, but they weren’t helped by both central defenders, Jay and Jonny Magee having to be withdrawn through injury. That meant that winger Kyle Neill and right-back Brendan Shannon had to fill in in central defence but both put it stern displays in the final 20 minutes.

Tony Grant could even have made it 2-0 on 73 minutes as O’Hare’s long kick found the striker in the opposite penalty area. However Grant rushed a first time effort, perhaps not realising the space he had, and fired his shot wide of goal.

Brian Gartland then saw another header stopped by the in-form O’Hare. However, there was little the keeper could do to stop Conor McCloskey from tapping home after Niall Henderson had given the ball to Kevin Braniff whose shot rebounded off the post and fell to the well-placed substitute.

With six minutes left, it was sure to be a nervy ending for the home support. Into injury time, nerves, and the crossbar, were left jangling by Ross Redman’s well-struck effort that crashed off the frame of the goal.

Referee Mark Courtney then sent off Gary Hamilton as the game drew to a close. Courtney had already handed out SEVEN yellow cards in what was far from a dirty game. Three of those were for dissent from Portadown players whilst two, including Hamilton’s first, were for kicking the ball away before a free-kick was taken. Well, I say kicked away, I mean rolled a couple of yards.

A late tackle from the Glenavon gaffer on Neil McCafferty then resulted in his dismissal as Courtney typically made his way into the post-match discussions through his card-happy display.

Not even that could dampen the spirits around Mourneview Park though, as the final whistle blew and sent the home fans into raptures and their team into the next round.

GLENAVON: O’Hare, Shannon, Jay Magee (Hagan 36), Jonny Magee (Miskimmin 67), Grieve, McCaul, Henderson, Cherry, Neill, Hamilton, Grant.

Unused Subs: Coleman, Adams, Mitchell.

PORTADOWN: Miskelly, O’Hara (Burns 82), Breen, Gartland, Redman, Tomelty, Clarke, McCafferty, Boyle (McCloskey 68), Paget (Lyness 76), Braniff.

Unused Subs: Murphy, McConnell.