Transport 2, Spartak 2 (Spartak win 5-3 on pens)
Spartak advanced in an incident packed game at Rutland Avenue, in a tough encounter, which would have needed a firmer referee. Greg Byrne dislocated his shoulder, while Steve Walsh suffered a bloody nose. Geoff Gamble also came in for some rough treatment. A further factor, which both teams complained to the ref about, was that the match footballs were over inflated which meant the ball was like a concrete block!
The Sky Blues opened at a decent pace, but squandered several good opportunities early on. Geoff Gamble shot straight at the keeper, Ger Byrne missed a couple of chances, Steve Walsh stopped allowing the goalkeeper recover after missing the ball. Failure to put away these early chances might have been costly.
Transport had a couple of chances themselves as the half progressed.
The pitch, which started out in good shape, gradually deteriorated and the second half was more of a slog. Greg Byrne made a double save, before, on 58 minutes, Ger Byrne’s run set up Steve Walsh to fire home from the edge of the box.
However Spartak suffered a triple blow as Transport’s effort was deemed to have crossed the line; worse, Greg Byrne was injured in the melee and Steve Walsh was off the pitch receiving treatment, and unable to return. All three substitutes would play a key role before the end.
The opening minutes of extra time saw Transport miss a great chance by blazing over, while at the other end Ger Byrne rounded the keeper, was fouled, but no whistle.
A few minutes into the second period Transport took the lead. Hesitation in the Spartak rearguard allowed the forward to turn and shoot low to the corner.
Geoff Gamble then rolled one past the keeper, and the ball was cleared from behind the line, but the ref waved play on. As Spartak threw everything into frenzied attack, it was Dave Kernan who pounced on a half clearance to fire in with the last kick of the match. The ref did not even bother to allow a restart.
Spartak were clinical in their penalties, with Neil McGowan, Geoff Gamble, Dave Browne, Cormac O’Connor all scoring before stand in keeper Mick Greene saved Transport’s fifth kick, and that man Dave Kernan completed he rescue act with his spot kick.
A poor attitude to start with almost cost the game, but Spartak battled against the odds in the end.
Greg Byrne 7 Dave Kernan 8 Cian Donohoe 7 Niall Lennon 6 Karl McCullagh 7 Stuart Love 6 Neil McGowan 6 Geoff Gamble 6 Owen Marron 6 Ger Byrne 6 Steve Walsh 6
Subs: Dave Brown 6 Mick Greene 7 Cormac O’Connor 6