IRISH CUP: Underdogs Loughgall into semi-finals after shock win at Glenavon
Loughgall proved that the drama and romance of the cup are alive and well as the Championship side shocked Mid-Ulster neighbours to deservedly secure a place in the Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final.
Goals from Dale Montgomery and Gary Liggett capped off a tremendous display by Dean Smith’s side who added another Premiership scalp after beating Ards by the same 2-1 scoreline in the last round.
Thanks to the sterling efforts of a band of hard working volunteers, the game was the only quarter-final tie to survive the Beast from the East. But Glenavon failed to match the hard work and dedication of their fans who worked through the night and all of Saturday morning to ensure the fixture went ahead.
The home side started brightly, with James Singleton heading over after just three minutes and, soon after, Joel Copper fashioning a chance that he fired straight at Craig Robinson.
Glenavon looked to get the ball forward as quickly as possible but the direct approach was lapped up by Loughgall centre backs Richard Copeland and Mark Stewart. The visitors played the better passing football in the first half and Johnny Tuffey pulled off what would be the first of a number of impressive saves to deny Andrew Hoey an early goal.
He again denied Hoey on 37 minutes when he stuck out a right leg after seeing the striker’s shot late and even when Liggett steered a deflected Marcus Dallas pass into the net, it was ruled out for offside.
Tuffey’s heroics continued on 39 minutes when he saved a Gary Liggett penalty awarded after Peter Campbell was upended in the box, diving low to his left to push the ball wide. But Loughgall didn’t have long to rue that opening as they took the lead from the resultant corner.
Campbell sent in a deep ball that found its way to an unmarked Montgomery at the back post and he squeezed a powerful shot home.
That sparked a reaction from Glenavon, with Andrew Mitchell skying a half chance while calls for a penalty after Josh Daniels went down in the box were waved away by referee Tim Marshall.
The second half saw the expected Glenavon pressure but they were met by a wall of red shirts. Sammy Clingan’s curling free kick almost caught out Robinson, who tipped over and the keeper was again alert to save from Mark Sykes after the midfielder had been put through by Mitchell and Bobby Burns.
Singleton headed another Sammy Clingan corner over the bar before Robinson saved bravely at the feet of Burns as Loughgall continued to put their bodies on the line.
That determination paid off for the visitors as they added a second goal through former Glenavon player, Ligett.
From a half-cleared corner, Tuffey pulled off another strong save to stop Hoey but in the scramble, substitute Nathaniel Ferris hit the post and bar before Liggett calmly forced the ball home.
Glenavon attempted to rally and a sideline scuffle involving players and coaches saw substitutes Stefan McMaster and Simon Kelly red carded. The Lurgan Blues showed more fight after that and Singleton brought late drama when he powerfully headed home with just two minutes left.
Loughgall keeper Robinson almost spilled a Burns shot into his own net and then Mitchell and Mark Griffin got in each other’s way as Loughgall survived the late pressure to secure another famous win.
Glenavon: Tuffey, Burns, McGrory (Doyle 75), Cooper, Marshall, Mitchell, Daniels (Foley 68), Sykes (Griffin 57), Clingan, Marron, Singleton. Subs not used: Kelly, Taylor, O’Mahoney, Norton.
Loughgall: Robinson, Montgomery, Ballard, Copeland, Stewart (Neill 71), Dallas, McConnell, Ferguson, Liggett, Hoey (Moulen 92), Campbell (Ferris 57). Subs not used: McMaster, Rea, Stretton.
Referee: Tim Marshall