Cliftonville 4-3 Warrenpoint Town
Jamie Harney was the hat-trick hero as Cliftonville overcame Warrenpoint Town in an epic Tennent’s Irish Cup Fifth Round clash at Solitude.
Trailing when Martin Murray put the visitors in front, the Reds hit back courtesy of Harney and Ross Lavery before Jamie McGovern’s dismissal gave Town fresh hope.
And they took full advantage of their extra man when Murray pounced to make it 2-2 and send the tie into Extra Time but, before the 90 minutes were up, visting player/boss Matthew Tipton’s red card meant that the contest was 10 against 10.
Harney netted twice in the first period of Extra Time to claim the matchball and, though Darius Roohi pulled one back late on, Cliftonville made progress to the Sixth Round.
There were few signs of the drama that would follow when the Reds’ sluggish start was punished by Murray’s opening goal after just four minutes, with Brian Neeson forced to turn a Darren Murray free-kick over the top before Joe Gormley was off target at the other end.
Town should have doubled their advantage on the quarter-hour when Darren Murray’s low drive was kept out by Neeson, only for the ball to fall perfectly for Martin Murray to turn into an empty net – but he blazed over the top with the goal gaping.
That let-off shook Cliftonville into action and, after Rory Donnelly had sent a header straight at Jonny Parr, the same player linked up with Gormley only to send his attempt wide of the mark.
The Reds were grateful to Neeson for a save that stopped Lorcan Forde making it 2-0 ahead of Rory Donnelly’s fierce attempt being repelled by Parr.
Donnelly then headed against the bar from a Gormley cross before Cliftonville drew themselves level on 41 minutes when Lavery’s free-kick was smartly guided into the bottom corner by Harney.
The second-half was just two minutes old when the hosts were in front; Lavery played Donnelly in on goal and, when his shot was blocked by Danny Wallace, Lavery followed up to slam home from close range.
Lavery then drew a save from Parr and Seanna Foster went close to levelling with a blast across the face of goal before, on 64 minutes, Garry Breen, Gormley and Donnelly each had swipes at converting a Lavery delivery, only for the ball to settle on the top of the net.
McGovern’s red card for a clash with Darren Murray handed Warrenpoint a numerical advantage they made count four minutes from time when, amid strong offside appeals, Martin Murray latched onto Conall McGrandles’ ball over the top to blast the visitors level but, before the tie reached Extra Time, the numbers were levelled as thanks to Tipton’s quickfire bookings – one for blocking Levi Ives attempting to take a throw-in and the second for a high challenge on Rory Donnelly.
With 10 against 10, it was Cliftonville who regained control six minutes into Extra Time when Harney met Ives’ free-kick to make it 3-2 and the central defender was in the right place at the right time to complete his hat-trick and extend the Reds’ lead further when a corner wasn’t fully cleared two minutes before the turnaround.
The hosts had looked like making comfortable progress to the Sixth Round only to be handed a nervy final few minutes when Forde got the better of Ives out wide and his delivery was eventually finished off by Roohi to set up a grandstand finish that Cliftonville saw out to seal their spot in the draw.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Breen, Harney, Garrett, Bagnall, Winchester, Gormley, Lavery, R Donnelly. Subs: Dunne, Harkin, Hughes, J Donnelly (Lavery, 74 mins), Cosgrove (Gormley, 74 mins), A Donnelly, McDonald (Winchester, 74 mins).
Sean Graham Man of the Match: Jamie Harney
Half-Gate Draw Number: 71315