Sports

Warrenpoint reach Mid-Ulster final

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Warrenpoint reach Mid-Ulster final thumbnailWARRENPOINT Town manager Matthew Tipton.

MATTHEW Tipton has earned and opportunity to win his first piece of silverware as manager of Warrenpoint Town, less than a month after taking over from Barry Gray.

Glenavon ...1
Warrenpoint Town ...3

The Seasiders will play Armagh City in the Mid-Ulster Cup final on Tuesday, January 24, (with clubs likely to toss for home venue), following Tuesday's impressive win over Premiership side Glenavon and Tipton was glowing with praise after the match.

“Regardless of it being League Cup, FA Cup or Mid-Ulster Cup, we don't get too many chances to get into a final so we have got to take them," said Tipton.

“I thought some of the football we played tonight was the best we have played all season and it is good that we managed to do that against a top team and it gives the boys confidence going forward.

“Our long-term plan is to be back in the Premiership and come up and challenge teams such as Glenavon and obviously when we played Ards and Ballymena in the cups and it gives us a gauge of where we want to get to.

“Tonight might have been a bit false as Gary [Hamilton] made a lot of changes and we went in with our full strength team.

“But it was important that we performed on the big stage and we certainly did that tonight."

To put this win into some sort of context - yes, this was a Glenavon team which had made 11 changes from their team which lined up against Glentoran the previous week, but their selection still had five members of the team which won last May's Irish Cup.

Matthew Tipton's men had enough chances to be out of sight by half-time against a shaky looking Premiership outfit.

Conor McMenamin pulled a shot wide after five minutes and on 11 minutes, following good work down the left, Lorcan Forde put his half-volley over the bar from six-yards.

At the other end Glenavon's sole chance of the opening exchanges came from a Kevin Braniff free kick. Kyle Neill leapt to meet it, but couldn't connect.

On 23 minutes the Seasiders broke the deadlock. Glenavon defender Simon Kelly dilly-dallied in possession, allowing Stephen Murray to pickpocket him. The big forward bore down on goal and drilled past James Taylor.

And a minute later the 'Point had doubled their advantage with a move started and finished by the brilliant John McGuigan. Forde, in acres of space down the right, played a crucial cameo role by providing the cross for the midfielder to finish. The upset was most definitely on.

Just after the half hour mark Glenavon pulled a goal back. Andy Kilmartin found Declan O'Brien and his flick on fell at the feet of Guy Bates. O'Brien was waiting to turn the Geordie's cross in.

Warrenpoint kept positive, however, and could have restored their two goal lead when Aaron Traynor pulled the ball back from the byline for Murray, but he skewed his shot wide of the mark.

McMenamin could have made it three after the interval with a backheel, while at the other end Glenavon could have gone ahead. Neill's corner fell for David Elebert, but his header was cleared off the line by Stephen Moan, only for Kelly to find the ball coming his direction. He had little time to react, though, and his header went over.

As the hour mark rolled up Warrenpoint scored their third. John McGuigan tried his luck from 20-yards out and wrong-footed Taylor, with a little help from a deflection off Braniff.

The apparent ease at which 'Point were running away with this game was summed up in one little move as McMenamin jinked past Simon Kelly inside the penalty box. It would have been better if he had scored when one-on-one with the Glenavon 'keeper, but by that stage it didn't seem to matter.

The game fizzled out as a contest, except for Elebert having another header cleared off the line and substitute Ruairi Croskery going close late on, but in the end it was Warrenpoint who were celebrating.

Tipton insisted that his men have no need to be over-confident going into the final, especially considering Armagh City have already beaten Warrenpoint in the Championship.

“So far this season we have got beaten by Armagh and drew with them at home, so we know it is going to be a tough game because they are a team at our level.

“Without meaning to be disrespectful, when you are coming to stadiums like this [Mourneview Park], it will be the highlight of the year for some of our players so they tend to lift their game.

“When we play a team at our level, the team mightn't feel just as motivated but it is my job as manager to make sure that doesn't happen."

First up though Warrenpoint are back in Championship action away to Lurgan Celtic on Saturday (December 10) at 3pm.

GLENAVON: Taylor, Young, Kelly, Elebert, Neill, Fisher, Kilmartin, Braniff, Patton, Bates, O'Brien. Subs: Hamilton (Fisher 71), O'Mahoney, Burns (Neill 63), Jenkins (O'Brien 75).

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Parr, King, McVeigh, Dane, Traynor, Boyle, Moan, McGuigan, McMenamin, Forde, Murray. Subs: Maguire, Murphy, Mulvenna (Murray 71), Lynch (Dane 60), Croskery (Forde 71).

Referee: Raymond Hetherington (Dungannon).

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