Redmond goal wins battle of the Rovers
Ashford Rovers had reason to feel frustrated as it was an extra-time goal that sent them crashing out of the FAI Junior Cup at the first round stage to Wexford side, Bridge Rovers, at Castlebridge on Sunday.
Bridge Rovers 5 Ashford Rovers 4 (AET)
Refusing to accept defeat, Ashford had battled back from behind on several occasions, showing an intensity that saw the home side struggle for long periods, but to score four goals and still make their exit left them a frustrated bunch on the final whistle.
It was double delight for Terry Gainfort as his two goals, one in each half, eventually helped his side to victory, but the excellent play of Ashford's centre-forward Danny Byrne really caught the eye. His control and footwork dazzled on occasions and he was unlucky not to have found the net more than once.
Gainfort struck for goals during periods when his side were struggling with the attack-conscious visitors, but it still took a goal from Colin Redmond five minutes from the end of extra-time to steer the home side into the second round draw.
For long periods the Wicklow team looked more impressive going forward, particularly Danny Byrne up front, whose speed and control when in possession was causing problems for the home back four, and he needed some special attention to curb his threat in front of goal.
Bridge Rovers' defence were caught by the excellence of Byrne who had strayed out to the wing and it was his cross that led to the opening goal after just eight minutes. With the home defence only managing to clear the ball to the edge of the area, Jamie Kelly shot brilliantly left-footed to the left corner of the net, giving home 'keeper Brian Tobin no chance and his side a 1-0 lead.
The visitors were unlucky not to increase their lead eight minutes later but Danny Byrne saw his header from a Fionn Brooks cross go just over the top with the home 'keeper beaten.
At the opposite end Derek Walsh had a free-kick blocked by the wall, while Ashford in a further threatening attack forced a free-kick to the centre of the goal outside the area. Byrne saw his attempt on goal blocked but gathered the rebound, only to fire just over.
The visitors' defence was now coming under pressure for the first time. Kevin Byrne and Evan Devereux combined to set up Derek Walsh but his right foot shot was just outside the left post.
Eventually the equaliser arrived four minutes before the break. A long Colin Redmond free-kick eluded the back four, leaving Terry Gainfort to race clear before lofting the ball over advancing 'keeper Paul Conyard, entering the net via a post and leaving it 1-1 which is how it remained to the interval.
The pace of the game increased through a frenetic second-half. After Ashford's Byrne saw his effort beaten away for a fruitless corner kick, the home side took the lead for the first time in the 52nd minute, with Gainfort powerfully heading home a Kevin Murphy cross from twelve metres having been left unmarked in front of goal (2-1).
But the lead was shortlived as Ashford's Fionn Brooks outsmarted his opposite number down the left and his excellent cross was powerfully headed home by Danny Byrne, making it 2-2 after 59 minutes.
The visitors' defence was caught flat-footed though one minute later as they allowed Kevin Murphy lots of space to fire a low left-footed shot to the net for a 3-2 lead.
Ashford needed a response and it came from substitute Shane Farrell. Having forced a free-kick wide on the right, Daniel McCann floated the ball to the far post, leaving Farrell to tap home from close in and making it 3-3 after 66 minutes.
But in a dramatic finish Bridge substitute Oisín Firman made it 4-3 on 90 minutes. Three minutes into additional time though, Farrell was once again on the mark with a low shot to the net from the edge of the area to force extra-time.
Both sides were beginning to run out of steam in extra-time. It looked as if the game was heading towards the dreaded penalty shoot-out until five minutes from the end of the second period when Bridge centre-back Colin Redmond came forward to get his boot to a breaking ball to find the corner of the net.
It gave his side a dramatic late victory, and Ashford were stunned in the process, bowing out of the cup in such dramatic circumstances after an heroic effort.
Bridge Rovers: Brian Tobin, Shane Hogan, Mark Tobin, Colin Redmond, Evan Devereux, Shane Murphy, Kevin Byrne, Terry Gainfort, Kevin Murphy, Derek Walsh. Subs. - Oisín Firman, Ray McGlone, Mark Mythen, Jason Murphy.
Ashford Rovers: Paul Conyard, Kane O'Shea, Naoise Treacy, Andrew Reilly, Seán Beale, Shane Dunne, Fionn Brooks, Karl Earles, Danny Byrne, Jamie Kelly, Daniel McCann. Subs. - Shane Farrell, Paul Duffy, Chris Sillery, James Clarkson.
Referee: Seamus Kelly.