After fighting back from 2-0 down against Armagh City, the icing on the cake for Gary Taylor’s Portstewart would have been making it through to the next round of the Irish Cup, but that wasn’t to be at a damp Armagh on Saturday.
Taylor’s side were 2-0 at half time, but goals from Luke Bradley and David McClements capped off a superb second half for the visitors - and it took penalties to separate the Championship Two side from their Championship One opponents.
Misses from Forgrave and Moore from the spot saw Armagh through to the next round, where they will face Linfield.
Taylor described his side’s performance as ‘gutsy’, and pointed out that the second half display by his young side proves that they have ‘nothing to fear’ in their own League.
They turn to more Cup action this Saturday, when they travel to Donegal Celtic in the Intermediate Cup, a tie that has been rescheduled from a fortnight ago.
“If we can take anything out of Saturday it’s that we can hold our own against teams in the higher league.
“We had a very poor first half, but we were superb in the second half. We told the boys to go out and pray for a bit of pride, and they certainly did that.
“Luke [Bradley] popped up with a header to make it 2-1 and David [McClements] scored a fantastic goal to level things.
“Both teams were dead on their feet by the end of the extra time. When games go to penalties it’s just luck.
“It would have been nice to get a big tie, like we did last year, but our focus has to be on the League.
“We haven’t had a league game since the start of December, we face Donegal Celtic this week in the Cup. They have a new manager in and they have signed a handful of new players, so we are know nothing about them ahead of the game. It will be good to get these Cup games out of the way and then our focus will be getting points on the board in the League.”
Gary praised his side’s second half display, but had a special mention for defender Luke Bradley and forward Johnny Stewart: “Luke didn’t miss a ball in the second half. We knew that they were suspect on corners, so it was nice for Luke to pop up and head home early in the second half. Johnny also played very well,” said the Portstewart boss.