Saddler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup
Knockbreda 2-1 Newington
A GOAL in each half from midfielder Cillin Gilmore helped Knockbreda edge Newington 2-1 in their Irish Cup first round tie at Breda Park on Saturday afternoon.
The home side were the livelier team over the course of a cagey first half and Gilmore capitalised on a mix-up in the Newington defence to give his side a deserved 1-0 advantage at the break.
Newington were vastly improved in the second half and they were rewarded for their efforts when Gary Warwick nipped in ahead of the advancing Lewis Deane to level the contest at 1-1 on 64 minutes.
However, Knockbreda hit back 10 minutes later when Gilmore’s brilliant strike from the edge of the box caught Marc Maybin off his line and Newington were on the back foot once again.
To their credit, the North Belfast men fought right to the end to try and force extra-time and Maybin almost plundered an unlikely equaliser right at the death, but he couldn’t steer his last-gasp header inside the near post.
Knockbreda now welcome Crusaders to Breda Park next Saturday for their last 16 tie while Newington will enjoy a break before resuming pre-season training latter this summer.
While it may not have been the start that new manager Conall McNally would have wanted, he’ll take encouragement from the performance and work ethic of his side, who weren’t outclassed by the Championship outfit.
Yet, with both sides were a tad rusty and there was a lack of fluency in the passing from both teams during a frantic opening half.
Knockbreda were fastest out of the traps and forced an early corner which was worked short to Ross McCaughan, who clipped the crossbar in an early warning shot to the visitors.
Indeed, the hosts were dominant in the opening exchanges with the Newington defence under siege in the first 10 minutes.
Knockbreda let Newington off the hook when Lee McGreevy played a delightfully-weighted ball into the box, but nobody gambled and Newington cleared their lines.
Moments later, the same scenario transpired at the opposite end when Anthony McGonnell’s cross just needed a touch towards goal.
The breakthrough arrived on 27 minutes when Matthew Gorman’s header back towards his own goal was intercepted by Gilmore, who headed the ball over the advancing Maybin and into the net.
The goal was no more than the hosts deserved, although they took the foot off the throttle somewhat as the remainder of the half played out with little in the way of clear-cut chances for either side.
The introduction of Patrick Downey at the interval gave Newington a bit more pace in the middle channels.
The North Belfast men were livid at a disputed free-kick awarded to Knockbreda in the early stages of the second half when Maybin was adjudged to have picked the ball up following a back-pass from Kevin Bradley, who was adamant he didn’t make contact with the ball.
The subsequent indirect free-kick from Gilmore has blocked down and Newington cleared their lines.
On 64 minutes, Newington got themselves back on level terms when Daire Rooney and Daniel White linked up to play Warwick in at the near post and the midfielder’s composed finish was enough to beat Deane to make it 1-1.
Knockbreda retook the lead less than 10 minutes later with Gilmore again on target.
Newington simply afforded the midfielder too much space and he took full advantage when he spied Maybin off his line to fire into the corner of the net with a fine strike to put his side 2-1 ahead on 73 minutes.
Much like the first half, Knockbreda seemed content to defend their lead rather than push for another and Newington had the majority of the chances in the final quarter.
Rooney ought to have tested Deane when he directed a header straight at the Knockbreda ’keeper on 80 minutes while Warwick was denied by Deane minutes later.
White also failed to beat Deane with his late effort as the game moved into stoppage time.
With the last roll of the dice, a Newington corner saw everyone pile forward, including goalkeeper Maybin.
McGonnell whipped the ball in and it was Maybin who emerged from a mass of players, but his diving header glanced wide of the near post as Knockbreda held on to progress to the last 16 of this season’s Irish Cup.
KNOCKBREDA: L Deane, K McCauley, K Hamill, R McCaughan, F Rice, C Gilmore, S Garrett (B Bennett 81), P Cafolla (C Gardiner 86), P McDermott, D Davidson, L McGreevy (J McNeill 73).
NEWINGTON: M Maybin, S O’Reilly (R McVarnock 78), M Gorman (A Gillen 58), A Casey, K Bradley, R Gowdy, G Warwick, N Cummings (P Downey HT), D Rooney, D White, A McGonnell.
REFEREE: Ben McMaster.