There is a new name emblazoned on the Voodoo Venue Cup this season after ten men Strand Rovers produced a late comeback to defeat Oldtown Celtic in Ballyare.
Strand Rovers 2 Oldtown Celtic 1
By Stuart Connolly
Stephen Glackin was given his marching orders just ten minutes in for a handball on the line with Luke Nelis seeing his spot kick saved.
Gio Peoples put Oldtown in front from the spot 90 seconds into the second half before two goals in four minutes towards the end from Ryan Brennan and player-manager Shane O’Donnell helped put Strand Rovers’ name on the trophy.
Strand enjoyed a fast start and only a tackle from Kyle Gormley denied Aaron Ward a shot at goal inside 90 seconds.
A few minutes had elapsed and Strand looked up for the fight, seeing most of their early shots blocked at the source.
Just over ten minutes in, the game was turned on its head. Following a corner from the right, Kevin McGovern let the ball slip from his grasp, that allowed Kevin McGrath a header into an empty net only for Stephen Glackin to save it on the line using his hands – Think Luis Suarez v Ghana at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
Referee Mick Lagan had no choice but to issue a straight red card.
Luke Nelis stepped up for the penalty kick that followed, he went for the bottom left corner and McGovern guessed correctly to keep the score level.
Chances at both ends followed as Ryan Brennan headed over from a corner while Gio Peoples and Sean Cleary couldn’t find the target.
A free kick from Tommy McLaughlin resulted in the best chance of the half for Oldtown, unfortunately for the league winners, Chick McLaughlin couldn’t get the right purchase on a free header from close range.
Sean Cleary had an effort fly over the bar around the half hour as the teams went into the interval level.
Less than 90 seconds into the second half, Oldtown were awarded a second spot kick after Doalty Boyle brought down Luke Nelis.
Gio Peoples stepped up for this one and fired it into the bottom left corner, despite a strong hand to it from McGovern.
Just shy after the hour, Oldtown went close to a second goal as Sean Cleary had a low effort well saved by McGovern.
With 15 minutes to go, Strand Rovers levelled the game. Ryan Brennan was played through on goal down the middle and after easing away from his marker, he was able to prod the ball beyond the onrushing Michael Gibson.
Just a few moments later, Strand took the lead. With a spring in their step, a corner in from the right was headed and saved onto the bar by Michael Gibson and player-manager Shane O’Donnell was alert to head in the rebound.
Extra time may have been on the cards but Brendan Brennan made a crucial block on the line to deny Cleary deep into stoppage time.