BetMcLean Cup


03 Oct 2023
Pacemaker Press

In the end there may not have been any upsets of note, but the first round of the BetMcLean Cup wasn’t without its customary sprinkling of drama, excitement, what ifs and maybes.

Dergview, still under the interim management of Ivan Sproule, came within moments of knocking out Premiership opponents Glenavon at Mourneview Park.

They matched their top flight hosts all the way to a scoreless draw after 90 minutes before moving in front with nine minutes of extra-time remaining when Marc Kirk smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

But Glenavon, in only their second outing under new boss Stephen McDonnell, fought back to level through Sean Ward’s stunning volley from the edge of the box before the veteran did it again in stoppage time to break the hearts of the visitors.

And Coleraine, runners-up last season, were also taken all the way at home by Championship opponents Bangor.

Matthew Shevlin thought he had done enough to see the Bannsiders through when he broke the deadlock on 89 minutes, but the Seasiders hit back in the fifth minute of added time courtesy of a Ben Arthurs spot-kick.

However Lee Lynch popped up midway through the first half of extra-time with a 25-yard drive past James Taylor to book a place in the next round for Oran Kearney’s side.

One other game needed extra-time to find a solution. Annagh United had trailed to PIL visitors Portstewart thanks to a first half strike from Pierce Quigley until Brandon Doyle equalised in the 85th minute before Conall Young and Darren Doherty, with a brace, found the net to send Ciaran McGurgan’s charges through.

Holders Linfield experienced a scare of their own as they welcomed Queen’s University to Windsor Park.

Stewart Nixon fired the Students in front after just nine minutes with a clinical finish into the bottom corner but two goals from Joel Cooper – one in each half – and a John Robertson strike proved enough for the Blues in the end.

Larne were the biggest scorers on the night with a 9-1 defeat of Championship strugglers Knockbreda at Inver Park.

Micheal Glynn, Tomas Cosgrove and Ilijah Paul fired the Invermen into a commanding lead midway through the first before Joe Thomson bagged a hat-trick – one of only two on the night – with further finishes coming from Shea Gordon, Corey Smith and Lee Bonis later in the game.

Crusaders’ Ben Kennedy grabbed the only other hat-trick as Stephen Baxter’s side hit five without reply past Warrenpoint Town at Milltown.

Ards also hit five on the road as they swept past Ballinamallard United at Ferney Park while Ballymena United, Carrick Rangers and Portadown all knocked home four goals apiece with victories over Lisburn Distillery, Moyola Park and Coagh United.

Elsewhere, Cliftonville were relatively untroubled as they defeated Institute 3-0 at Solitude with Dungannon Swifts also registering three home goals as they got past Championship leaders Newington.

Also making the cut for the last 16 were Glentoran, Newry City, Loughgall and Limavady United.