Penalty heartache for Iveagh Thistle in cup semi-final

CUP fever was in the air for Iveagh Thistle as they took on Abbey Villa in the semi-final of the George Best League Cup.

Thistle started the brighter of the two sides getting the ball wide to wingers Moore and Donnelly at every opportunity that were making good headway down each flank producing passes to striker Carroll who was finding space at a premium against a well drilled defence.

On 10 minutes the first real chance arrived when a cute Cairns pass played in Carroll but his shot was saved by the on rushing keeper. This was a warning Abbey Villa didn’t heed as minutes later Donnelly, this time hit a well weighted ball to Carroll, who instead of shooting rounded the keeper and fired into the empty net to send Thistle in front.

The locals continued with their pressure and thought they were two up when, from a keeper’s save, Gallagher’s rebounded effort hit the post and bounced safe.

Just before half time another Thistle attack ended up with Cairns in on the keeper but his shot went agonisingly inches wide.

The second half was a more even affair with a lot of play breaking down in mid field due to some tough tackling but the Thistle defence were mostly untroubled. That was until ten minutes from time when Abbey Villa, for the first time, broke the off side trap and against the run of play levelled the match with a good finish.

Moments later Thistle keeper Hunter was called into action to make a save as the Comber side buoyed by their goal were playing with renewed confidence but Thistle soon reasserted themselves in the match with most of the play taking part in the Villa half as the clock ticked down but without a real chance being created.

In extra time there looked to be only one winner with wave after wave of Thistle attack, but lady luck was not one their side as every blocked effort and shot come ricochet, fell kindly to a Villa defender to clear.

Ten minutes later as the whistle blew the game was destined to be decided on the dreaded penalty shoot out and it was not to be for Iveagh Thistle who missed two from their first four while the opposition scored all of theirs.

A huge disappointment for the young lads but one they can learn from, when they reflect on the way they played on this big occasion they can be proud and on a different day it would have been a different result.