Lisburn Distillery were in Intermediate Cup action against Ballyclare Comrades, having suffered a 2-6 mauling by the Comrades last time out, and the travelling support were hoping not to witness a Valentine’s Day massacre.
The game started off in a feisty way from which the home side created early danger and the visitors ‘keeper Ryan McBride was called into action early on to divert a dangerous low cross.
Whites manager Tommy Kincaid made an early change taking off the previously booked Jimmy Mcilhagga and replacing him with Artur Kopyt and the Whites began to hold their back line very well, keeping their composure as Ballyclare continued to dominate the early stages of the game.
Distillery midfielder Joe McDonnell then nearly set up a super counter attack as he won the ball in the middle of the park and attempted to play in Stephen Doyle but he narrowly lost out to his namesake Comrades defender Andrew Doyle who made a superb late tackle.
The Whites were now very much in a game that was constantly ebbing and flowing and they were unlucky not to take the lead when Sean Southam’s cross come shot hit the underside of the crossbar before bouncing clear.
Ballyclare started the second half with more intensity with McIlveen having the first chance with his shot rolling just wide of the left hand post.
Distillery’s first chance of the second period came when Bingham ran up the left before being well tackled late on by Andrew Doyle.
Ryan McBride was having a great game and he then made a save of the season contender as Simpson’s shot curved round a wall of Whites defenders and looked like it was going low into the bottom corner of the net only for the young shot stopper to somehow dive down and turn the ball around for a corner.
Whites manager Kincaid opted to try to affect things from off the pitch making another adjustment in his team replacing top scorer Sean Southam with Martin Jones.
Substitute Kopyt then set Distillery on the counter attack as he chested the ball down before playing in White only for very good goalkeeping by McCabe in the Comrades goal who rushed off his line to clear the danger.
Ryan McBride then made another great save to deny McCart as his header looked set for the top corner in the last minute of the game.
The game went into extra time. Distillery’s first chance came when Jones was played in only for a superb recovery tackle by Doyle and then McBride made yet another tremendous save from McIlveen’s powerful low drive.
Distillery had the first chance of the second period of extra time when Jones fancy footwork left the home defence dazzled but his cross was well blocked by Buckley to knock it behind for a corner.
And so a frenetic game finally came to an end somehow without any goals on the board and both sides now faced a daunting penalty shoot out to decide who would progress to the quarter finals of this season’s competition.
After successful takes by McIlveen and White it was that man McBride who once again emerged as the Distillery hero getting down well to block from Chris Trussel.
Jones then made it 2-1 to the visitors and then the hosts Simpson made it 2-2 via the inside of the post. Stephen Doyle then made it 2-3 to the visitors and then McBride again was the hero of the hour as he dived correctly to prevent Andrew Doyle from levelling the game. One more goal required then for the visitors to progress and up stepped the ever calm Kieran O’Connor to slot home and see the Whites into the last eight.
Jubilation from the travelling support and this was further enhanced when Distillery goalkeeper McBride, quite justifiably, won the IFA Man of the Match award.