Portstewart boss Gary Taylor has praised his side following Saturday’s 3-2 win over Dundela in the Irish Cup.
The seaside club are the only Championship Two side left in the competition, and are looking forward to a glittering home clash with Ronnie McFaul’s Portadown.
Supporters chanted ‘we are on our way to Windsor’ as the final whistle blew, and history was made as the seaside club booked their place in the sixth round for the first time in their history.
Speaking after the draw, Taylor said that spirits were high at Seahaven: “We couldn’t ask for a better draw - a home draw against Premiership opposition. Obviously it would’ve been nice to get neighbours Coleraine, but they are out of the competition now.
“Portadown are a big team, they have a very experienced squad and a fantastic manager.
“Just think of the silverware Ronnie has won down through the years. It is a great opportunity for our younger players.”
A brace from Johnny Stewart in the first half and James Peden’s goal straight from a free kick in the second period, helped the Ports to victory on Saturday against Mark Snodden’s Dundela.
There were four sent off in the tie, two from each side, but that wasn’t a fair reflection on the game, which was played in difficult weather conditions.
“I felt that we played well in very strong winds and probably should have scored more goals,” admitted Taylor.
“We had Richard Vauls, who we have just signed, sent off for a second yellow, which we felt was a little harsh, I think the referee could have taken the conditions into account, but that’s just football,” said the Portstewart boss.
Focusing on the season so far, Taylor had plenty of praise for his young squad: “We now have cover in most positions. We signed Richard Vauls from Ballymena United, Richard has been out of football for over a year through injury, he came in on Saturday and did very well.
“We have a good defence, experience from John Neill and James Peden and our keeper Joel Madison has been very good this season.”
It’s back to league action this Saturday as Portstewart travel to Moyola to take on Wakehurst, but Taylor has warned his side not to get complacent.
“We must stay grounded. Players will be fighting for their place and that’s always a good thing. We have Stuart Millar and Luke Bradley available again, so we will shuffle things around for Saturday. We don’t have a good record on the plastic pitch up there, so it’s vital we get focused for Saturday again.”
Dundela’s Aaron Keenan opened the scoring after just ten minutes.
However straight from the restart a good run by Donnell set up forward Johnny Stewart who level matters. Stewart hit the net again, making it 2-1 in the 18th minute, after Doherty danced through the Dundela defence.
The closing stages of the first half saw ferocious weather conditions, both teams battled against strong winds, and it was the visitors who won the battle against the weather, when Jackson made it 2-2 at the break.
A challenge in the eighth minute saw Ferguson being handed a straight red for a challenge on Portstewart’s midfielder Robert Donnell.
Portstewart took the lead again fourteen minutes after the restart.
A challenge on Doherty saw Peden hit home straight from the free kick from 20 yards out.
The homeside were then reduced to ten men when Vauls was given a second yellow for a challenge on substitute Simms.
Portstewart substitute McCullough was carded for rash challenge, he remonstrated with the referee and found himself getting a second yellow ensuring both teams ended the tie with nine men.