Institute surprisingly were taken all the way to 6-5 penalty shoot-out with over Oxford United Stars, in their Craig Memorial Cup tie, on Saturday.
The encounter at a windswept Swilly Stadium was virtually all one way traffic throughout the 90 minutes, in fact Oxford somehow took the game to penalties even though they didn’t have a single shot on target throughout the tie.
Even their 85th minute equaliser only came about because a bizarre piece of goalkeeping by Michael Lynch, when the net-minder somehow let Darryl McDermott’s back pass go into the net.
Because of that Stute boss Kevin Deery will have been fuming with his side as they didn’t see out the game.
The Stute goalkeeper made amends in the shoot-out as he saved from Owen McGarrigle, but despite Ciaron Harkin’s miss, it was the Drumahoe men who emerged victorious as Oxford’s Kyle Curran struck the post in sudden death.
Institute took the lead on seven minutes when Oxford keeper Sean McNeil rushed off his line to block Garbhan Friel’s effort, but Jamie Dunne showed super composure and calmly chipped home the loose ball from the right hand side of the box.
That was the just the start Deery would have wanted but his side failed to really build on that lead and it was the home side who went close on 20 minutes but Lee Roddy’s free-kick from the right hand side of the box was comfortably gathered by Lynch.
Just after the half-hour mark a poor clearing header by Graham Crown fell kindly to Adam Clarke, but the ex-Derry City man saw his left footed strike from 20 yards flash wide.
Institute had a glorious chance to end the tie on 63 minutes when Jordan Armstrong played in Paul Smith, but the striker’s attempted chip over McNeil went wide.
The Drumahoe side were starting to up the tempo and they had another opportunity to add a second when Friel’s centre found Armstrong, but his header at the near post was saved by McNeil.
Oxford somehow levelled things five minutes from time when McDermott’s back pass to Lynch was somehow missed by the young goalkeeper and ended up in the back of the net, much to the goalkeeper’s frustration.
That set-back just kicked Stute back into life and they had two chances to regain the lead, firstly Friel’s set-up play found Armstrong, but his effort was kept out by McNeil and the Oxford keeper made an even better save on 89 minutes keeping out Smith’s close range volley.
In extra-time the only real clear cut chance came in the first half when Aidan McCauley’s free-kick from just inside the Oxford half found Mark Scoltock, but the big centre-back couldn’t keep his close range header down.
With both teams tiring, chances became more and more scarce and it was no surprise that the tie went to penalties where Stute prevailed by the narrowest of margins.
Oxford United Stars: McNeill, McGarrigle, McLaughlin, Loughrey, K Roddy, Hegarty, Doherty, Rainey, L Roddy, Cleere, Adam Clarke. Subs: Cusack, Boyle, Quinn, Curran, Martyn, Harken.
Institute: Lynch, Morrow, Crown, McDermott, Curry; Armstrong, McCauley, McGinty, Dunne; Friel, Smith. Subs: Harkin, Scoltock, Brown, McIntyre, Gallagher.
Referee: Paul Doherty.