Sports

Stars go out in controversial manner

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

WINDMILL Stars exited the famous Irish Cup in controversial circumstances.

Windmill Stars ...3
Crewe United ...4

On 88 minutes on Saturday at Armagh's Holm Park Banbridge referee William McCahon didn't exactly endear himself to the Windmill supporters when he denied the home side a so-obvious corner kick.

The sides were level 2-2 at that stage when, following a Mattie Bagnall left wing corner kick, Gareth White headed across goal. A Crewe defender, totally on his own, hacked the ball over the crossbar with the official bizarrely giving a kick-out. And wouldn't you just know it, straight from that kick-out the visitors raced up field and fired into the home net.

In truth though just two minutes before that Crewe goal Windmill had a great opportunity of winning this fourth round tie. After an excellent piece of football, Bagnall and White set up Connor Shields who committed the United keeper Gerard McErlean, leaving himself with an empty net to aim at.

But after doing the hard work the striker shot past a gaping goal and into the side netting. The Stars' manager Keith McCrink declined to comment on that bizarre refereeing decision but he did tell the Democrat: "I'm proud of every single player in an orange shirt.

They all played their hearts out." And they did, especially the teak-tough central defensive partnership of John Joe Maguire and Chris Havern, the teenage Ronan Millar plus Gareth White and Ruairi Devlin who ran themselves into the ground.

Connor Shields tested McErlean on 15 minutes with a low 20-yard that the keeper dived full length to turn around the post.

But Shields then blotted his copy-book by handling in his own box, thus giving Crewe a 20-minute penalty kick - that Ciaran Carson confidently converted with a low drive into the corner.

And the visitors doubled their tally on 33 minutes when, following an Eamon McAllister free on the right, Mark McCullough controlled the ball before firing past the Stars' keeper Paddy Hearty.

Two down, Windmill were really up against it but to their credit they wasted little time pulling a goal back - less than 60 seconds later in fact. Straight from the restart Ronan Millar played in Gareth White and the Stars' skipper coolly lobbed the advancing Crewe net-minder.

And Windmill levelled just two minutes into the second half. The workaholic Ruairi Devlin dispossessed a Crewe defender on the left before setting up Connor Shields who controlled his pass and deftly picked his spot, low in the Crewe net.

After that goal though there were few scoring opportunities for either side in the second half until those final minutes.

After that late Shields' miss, Mattie Bagnall tested the United keeper with a 20-yarder that he managed to palm over the bar. And from the resulting corner came that horrendous refereeing decision and that Crewe goal.There was just one minute of normal time remaining when United grabbed their third goal but there were 11 minutes of injury time still to be played following a break in play because of a serious groin injury on 75 minutes to Crewe's Mark Deane who was stretched off.

The visitors then sealed the game with a fourth goal, on 94 minutes McCullough snapping his second score of the game when he turned inside a Windmill defender and blasted past Hearty.

Still the Stars battled away and with 10 minutes of injury time played John Joe Maguire rose highest in the box to head home a Paul O'Rourke free-kick.

Unfortunately for Windmill there just wasn't time to grab an equaliser but no doubt about it that refereeing corner-kick/goal-kick error was the game-changer and the real reason Windmill's Irish Cup campaign ended.

WINDMILL STARS: Paddy Hearty, Shane King, Paul O'Rourke, John Joe Maguire, Chris Havern, Ruairi Devlin, Connor Shields, Joe McLoughlin, Ronan Millar, Mattie Bagnall and Gareth White with subs: Tiernan Casey (for McLoughlin) and Josh McKeown (for Devlin). PJ Quigley, Paul McCrink and Marty Jennings not used.

CREWE UNITED: Gerard McErlean, Mark Deane, Harry Dyer, Patrick Fox, Ciaran Burns, Ciaran Carson, Eamon McAllister, Fra McGuinness, Pearse Devine, Mark McCullough and William McCracken with subs: Michael Henderson and Stuart Armstrong.

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