Clearer Water Irish Cup, Round Four
Crumlin Star 2 Limavady United 0
AN audacious free-kick from Aidan McNeill and a late second from David Fearon saw Crumlin Star secure their place in the Fifth Round of the Irish Cup with victory over Limavady United at The Cricky on Saturday.
McNeill's free-kick was a piece of brilliance as he caught out the visitors;' goalkeeper at the near post after 19 minutes and while there were chances for both as the game progressed, it wasn't until two minutes from time when Fearon sealed it.
The visitors, who ply their trade in the Premier Intermediate Division on the NIFL, immediately got the ball down and worked it around, but it took Star little time to do likewise as both got a feel for the game.
An intercept by Aidan McNeill in the sixth minute put Kevin Lynch along the left and although he weaved in close to goal, he was crowded out at the last and could only poke straight at Richard Purcell in the Limavady goal.
However, one minute later, the hosts were desperately unlucky not to host the front as Lynch played a one-two with Joe McNeill on the left and found David Fearon on the edge of the box who steadied and thumped a rasping shot that came down off the underside of the bar. The striker was first to follow in and Purcell was forced into stretching to claw the looping header from nestling in the net.
Limavady would have their chances too, the best of them on 15 minutes as Ryan Doherty tried his luck from the left corner of the box, but Ciaran McNeill got down to turn the effort around the post.
The breakthrough would come on 19 minutes and it was as brilliant as it was cheeky.
Star won a free-kick from around 30 yards deep on the left. All, including Purcell, were expecting a cross to be whipped in by the left-footer, but McNeill spied his opportunity and caught the Limavady goalkeeper out, judging his effort to perfection as he went for the near post and found the net.
Star pushed for a second in a period of frantic energy as they probed for another opening with their crisp passing seeing them get on the front foot, but the ball just wouldn't drop as Limavady settled again as they began to up the tempo of their passing.
Lewis Tosh slipped in Ian Parkhill on the right but his low drive flew outside of the post as the hosts went in at the break leading 1-0.
United had an early sight of goal after the break but Ryan Doherty's side-foot at the near post was well off target.
At the other end, Star came close to a second in the 54th minute as firstly, Aidan McNeill picked up possession on the left corner of the box and this time, with the right foot, let fly at the near post but Purcell pushed it behind.
From the corner, Noel Halfpenny swung ton the back post with Niall Hawkins stretching a boot out but couldn't get enough on it to put it on target.
Limavady did begin to get on the front foot as they chased the equaliser with Tennant fairing straight at Ciaran McNeill, but Star remained dangerous and Fra Nolan made a good break to swap passes with Fearon, yet he was just wide with his own low effort.
Fearon and Hawkins would see efforts straight at Purcell easily stoped, while Limavady's Parkhill swung in a corner that was flicked on, but there were no takers for the finish.
The visitors began to get more and more on the front foot with Luca Doherty looking lively off the bench, but they were met with a stout home defence that was well organised and stood firm.
Two minutes from time and the hosts sealed with with substitute, Barry McKervey swinging in a free-kick from the left and although Fearon's powerful header was saved, he finished the rebound.
In stoppage time, Limavady's Lewis Tosh saw a curling effort come off the post and cleared, which seemed to sum up their day, but Star were worthy of their victory and will now look forward with anticipation to the draw for the next round when the Irish Premiership sides join them in the hat.
Joining them there will be Willowbank who saw Thomas McCrory pop up with a last minute winner to see them take a 3-2 win over Tobermore United at The Cliff in Larne.
Willowbank went behind in the game, but were level thanks to an own goal. Christopher Heany put them in front only for the visitors to level, but there was still time for McCrory to hit the winner and send them into the Fifth Round.
CRUMLIN STAR: C McNeill, B O'Neill, A McNeill, N Hawkins A Lillis, J McNeill, N Halfpenny, K Trainor, K Lynch, D Fearon (S Smyth 90+1), F Nolan (B McKervey 84).
Goals: A McNeill 19, D Fearon 88
LIMAVADY UNITED: R Purcell (D Brown HT), A McLaughlin, M Walker, T Boorman, R Doherty, I Parkhill, L Tosh, C McCloskey (L Doherty 73), L McKendry (J Tennant 53), J Butcher (A Pomeroy 53), J McCready.
REFEREE: Niall Devlin