Clearer Water Irish Cup quarter-final

Portadown 0–2 Cliftonville 

A second half own-goal from Luke Wilson and a close-range finish from Sam Ashford ensured that Cliftonville booked their place in the last four of the Clearer Water Irish Cup with a 2-0 win over Portadown at Shamrock Park on Friday evening. 

Both sides struck the post in the opening half and Ronan Hale then fired against the underside of the bar in the early stages of the second half before Wilson turned Sean Stewart’s cross into his own net after the hour mark. 

The Ports saw Eamon Fyfe’s tap-in cancelled out approaching the final quarter of an hour and Cliftonville secured victory late on when Ashford converted Rory Hale’s cross to seal a spot in Saturday afternoon’s semi-final draw. 

Cliftonville boss Jim Magilton insisted that his side were never going to underestimate Niall Currie’s men and felt they put in a professional performance over the course of the 90 minutes. 

“It’s the quarter-final of an Irish Cup, so we knew it was a one-off game and we knew that we had to go and present ourselves,” he said. 

“We knew that we were playing against a Championship side - a very good and experienced Championship side - who now are in a League Cup final. We were never going to come here and underestimate them. We did our homework, we did a job and tonight we did a real professional job.”

Magilton made three changes from defeat at Stangmore Park last weekend as Conor Pepper, Chris Curran and Joe Gormley dropped to the bench. 

Rory Hale returned after his one-game ban and there were also returns for Shea Kearney and Sam Ashford. 

After a slow start to proceedings, it was Cliftonville who first threatened. Ronan Hale ran onto a pass from Ronan Doherty, but lost his footing and Aaron Traynor was able to intercept. 

Doherty was again involved in the 13th minute with a super through ball to Sam Ashford and the striker’s blistering shot crashed off the post with Rory Hale unable to sweep home the follow-up. 

Midway through the half, the Ports hit the woodwork themselves. Paul McElroy slipped in on-loan Coleraine winger Eamon Fyfe and his angled drive smashed off the post. The loose ball broke to Gary Thompson, but he shot straight at Odhran Casey who blocked. 

It was end-to-end stuff as Ronan Doherty’s long throw bounced and Ronan Hale’s flick-on was pushed away by Aaron Hogg and the striker was unable to turn home at the second time of asking. 

At the other end, David Odumosu came out to clear at the edge of the box and Aaron Traynor let fly with a speculative drive from inside his own half that scaled the target. 

Just after the half hour mark, Eoghan McCawl charged down Jonny Addis’ clearance and slipped in Zach Barr whose shot was turned around the post by Odumosu. 

Cliftonville went close on the stroke of half-time when a long free-kick from Addis dropped to Ronan Hale on the edge of the box. He was able to hold off Chris Rodgers and hook an effort goal wards that Hogg was equal to as it remained scoreless at the break. 

Eoghan McCawl hit a snapshot that drifted wide of the target in the early stages of the second half, whilst at the other end Sean Stewart picked out Kris Lowe on the edge of the box from a quickly taken corner and Lowe’s cross was headed over by an unmarked Ashford. 

The visitors then struck the woodwork for the second time. Lee Chapman’s attempted clearance took a nick off Sean Stewart and Ronan Hale took up the reins and curled an effort goal wards that crashed off the underside of the bar and out. 

Jony Addis gets his head to the ball

Jony Addis gets his head to the ball

The deadlock was broken in the 64th minute and fell to Cliftonville in fortuitous circumstances. 

Sean Stewart whipped in a cross that hung in the air and in his efforts to clear his lines, Luke Wilson was only able to steer the ball into the back of his own net. 

Portadown thought they had drawn level in the 72nd minute. Aaron Traynor ran onto a loose ball on the edge of the area and sent in a low cross which was turned home by Eamon Fyfe, but the offside flag curtailed the hosts celebrations. 

Niall Currie’s charges chased an equaliser, but Cliftonville secured their place in the last four in the closing stages. 

Luke Wilson was caught in possession by Sam Ashford, he slipped the ball to Rory Hale and was able to get on the end of his return ball into the box to make it 2-0. 

Thereafter, the visitors closed out the remaining minutes to return to winning ways ahead of a two-week layoff before they travel back to Mid-Ulster to take on Loughgall. 

PORTADOWN: Hogg, Rodgers (TJ Murray 57’), Wilson, Chapman, McCawl, McElroy (Browne 66’), Russell (Kane 73’), Fyfe, Traynor, Barr (Mayse 66’), Thompson. 

CLIFTONVILLE: Odumosu, Kearney, Addis, Casey, Burns, Stewart, Doherty (Gordon 80’), Lowe, Rory Hale (C Curran 87’), Ashford (Mallon 90+3’), Ronan Hale (Gormley 80’). 

REFEREE: Declan Hasson