Glenavon reach cup final after dramatic two goal salvo

Glenavon reached their first Irish Cup final since 1997 after a dramatic extra-time 3-1 win over Crusaders at Windsor Park.

They will face Ballymena in the final on May 3 after United defeated Queen’s University 3-0 in the other semi-final.

Glenavon's Rhys Marshall beats John Robinson to the ball.

Glenavon's Rhys Marshall beats John Robinson to the ball.

Gary Hamilton’s side more than deserved this win, it was a gripping cup tie with end to end actoin, missed penalties and brilliant goals.

Glenavon saved their best to last withMark Patton and Ciaran Martyn grabbing two late goals to see the Lurgan side through.

Glenavon pressed forward right from the off and put the Crues under pressure with two trademark long throws from Gareth McKeown cleared.

There was a let-off for the Lurgan Blues on four minutes when Paul Heatley beat the advancing James McGrath to the ball, his cross was deflected by McKeown and the shot from McCutcheon was blocked by Lindsay.

A minute later and it was the turn of Glenavon to go close, a great cross from Andy McGrory was met by Kyle Neill and his effort was saved by Sean O’Neill.

The breakthrough came on 14 minutes and it was Paul Heatley who broke Glenavon hearts. He ran onto a pass from Richard Clarke, cut inside Marshall and drilled a low shot past McGrath.

Lindsay did well to get in the way of a shot from Robinson as the Crues went for a second. A great ball from Clarke put Heatley into another good position but his shot was blocked, the ball rolled into the path of Hanley and his piledriver was well saved by McGrath. The Glenavon keeper was alert again to tip over a flick on by Owens from just a yard out.

On 28 minutes Guy Bates tried to barge his way past Leeman who picked up a yellow card for pulling him to the ground.

Gary McCutcheon should have made it 2-0 on 34 minutes but he blasted the ball over a gaping goal after McGrath had came out to block Heatley.

The action flowed to the other end with Bates turning sharply but brought down in the box by David McGowan. Referee Arnold Hunter pointed to the spot but Tiarnan Mulvenna’s spot kick was saved by O’Neill with McGrory’s follow up turned away for a corner. A great chance missed to get back into the game.

There was another great chance for Glenavon on 44 minutes. McKeown picked out Bates, he hit a great crossfield ball to McGrory who found Mulvenna in acres of space but his header never hit the target.

Within two minutes of the restart Glenavon had a chance to level when the ball fell to Mulvenna but he missed it in a scramble and then Marshall got in space to sent in low cross but the ball was cleared. Gareth McKeown kept the pressure on as he robbed Clarke and delivered a good ball to Bates but his first touch took the ball away from him and to a relieved keeper.

Hamilton and Patton came on for Neill and Mulvenna on 54 minutes and the player manager was quickly involved, first sent tumbling in the box trying to win a header and then along with Marshall they set up McGrory but his angled cross was blocked.

Jordan Owens mistimed his diving header from a yard out and skied the ball over the bar as the Crues still looked dangerous on the break.

The goal that Glenavon had been craving for eventually came on 65 minutes. Patton broke down the left flank, cut the ball back into the path of Ciaran Martyn and his first time shot flew into the back of the net. After those missed chances it was no more than the Lurgan Blues deserved.

Owens had a great chance to put the Crues ahead again but he scuffed his shot and McGrath was able to get a hand to it and divert it away for a corner.

As the minutes ticked away neither side wanted to give anything away as nerves set in. Then came a great chance on 88 minutes for Glenavon with McGrory threading the ball into the path of Patton who ran on, Hamilton was unmarked in the centre but he shot for goal and the keeper saved the day for Crusaders.

Glenavon almost won it in added time, first Martyn with a well struck shot that was blocked and then Bates teed up McGrory for the glory but his 20 yard effort sliced away from goal.

Crusaders had another sight of goal on 96 minutes, Hanley cutting the ball back for Owens, a goal seemed certain but McGrath saved with his feet and Heatley headed the rebound wide.

With the first period of extra time almost up Crusaders were awarded a penalty when Lindsay pulled back Clarke in the box. Morrow took the kick but McGrath guessed right to make a great save.

The Glenavon keeper was called upon after the restart to push away a firm shot from Clarke.

With six minutes left Patton brought the Glenavon fans to their feet with a screamer. He skipped past Magowan, rolled the ball forward and let fly with a shot from 18 yards out which dipped under the bar. A class strike from the winger.

The path to the final was complete two minutes later when Bates ran clear, centred for Martyn to drill home his second of the tie.

Glenavon: McGrath, Neill, Lindsay, Marshall, McKeown, Martyn, McCabe, McGrory, Singleton, Mulvenna, Bates.

Subs: Murphy, Kilmartin, Hamilton, Patton, McCaul.

Crusaders: O’Neill, Magowan, Coates, Leeman, Hanley, Robinson, Clarke, Adamson, Heatley, McCutcheon, Owens.

Subs:McCallister, McAllister, Smith, Morrow, McClean.

Referee: Arnold Hunter.