Comrades bowed out of the Irish Cup at Warrenpoint despite a display full of effort and determination.
Paul Harbinson’s men were always going to be up against it, having only played four friendly matches since being allowed to get back to action after a lengthy enforced break due to Covid restrictions, and facing a Premiership side which has been playing a full season of league fixtures. However, the boys in red gave a great account of themselves and pushed their opponents all the way.
The action opened with a couple of early efforts in the 3rd minute for either side. Firstly, Kyle Beggs tried a speculative effort from the right edge of the box which went well over. Then the hosts went up the other end and O’Sullivan hit an effort on target, but Jack Ferguson was well placed to save comfortably. There were few other efforts of note in the first half hour of the game, with play rather scrappy and neither side being able to build any momentum. In the 28th minute the visitors were forced to make a change when Lee McCune departed the action with a shoulder injury, with Elliot McKim coming on and Dale McCreery moving to left-back.
The latter part of the first half saw Warrenpoint with most of the ball and Comrades were forced to defend stoutly. However, in the 39th minute the home side made the breakthrough when a great run and cross from Doyle set up McCaffrey to drill home a low finish from 7 yards out.
Right at the end of the half Comrades thought they had a good shout for a penalty when Adam Gray looked to have been dragged down by an opponent just inside the box as he went to challenge the ‘keeper for a high ball. However, the referee instead awarded a free-kick for the ‘keeper handling the ball outside the box and the resulting set-piece came to nothing.
Comrades came out for the second half on the front foot and got their reward for a period of sustained pressure with a 54th minute equaliser. Gary Donnelly played in a dangerous ball from a corner and Elliot McKim got his head to it forcing Coleman to block, but Ciarán Dobbin was first to the loose ball and hit it into the back of the net from close range.
Comrades were doing well and were more than a match for their opponents for the bulk of the second half, although they were grateful for a wonderful sliding clearance off the line by Dale McCreery on 68 minutes after pinball in the box.
In the 75th minute Warrenpoint regained the lead. A long throw into the box saw Gallaher head an effort against the post and Swan was then first to react, turning the loose ball in from inside the 6-yard box.
This was to prove the winning goal, as despite their efforts Comrades weren’t able to fashion the clear chance in the game’s closing stages that would have taken it to extra-time.