Drogheda make early powerful drive to set down marker for season
Portadown 0 Drogheda Utd 5Drogheda United set down a marker for the season ahead when they brushed aside a disappointing Portadown side with a brace of goals in the first half and followed it up with three more in the second 45 minutes to cruise into the quarter-finals.
Directly from kick-off Drogheda won a corner that Eric Foley swung over from the right, which Alan Byrne met and steered to the net, handing the visitors a dream start after 50 seconds.
The night and scoreline improved further for United with 12 minutes gone when Gary O’Neill split the home defence with an incisive pass to Paul O’Conor, who picked his spot with a cool finish to the bottom corner of David Miskelly’s goal.
It was 20 minutes before a stunned Portadown side troubled the Drogheda goal when a Richard Lecky shot was blocked on the line by goalscorer Byrne, now deployed on his usual defensive duties. However, as the half wore on normal service was resumed as the League of Ireland side went close to extending their advantage on a couple of occasions.
In a reverse of the combination that yielded the second goal O’Conor set up O’Neill but the latter was denied by goalkeeper Miskelly and Gavin Brennan’s goal-bound drive was headed to safety by Ports defender Ross Redman.
Portadown began the second half brightly as Gabriel Sava was called into action, denying Darren Murray and Seán Mackle but again it was the visitors who went closest on 54 minutes when Philip Hand’s cross picked out Gavin Brennan, whose header came back off the bar. It was only a temporary respite for the home side for within a minute Drogheda struck for a third through Brennan, who with great dexterity and the coolest head, steered the ball to the net through a maze of bodies.
With 12 minutes remaining United scored again with the pick of the night following a delightful move which culminated in Gavin Brennan crossing for substitute Peter Hynes at the back post to head back across goal for another fresh face, David Cassidy, who bulleted home a diving header.
In stoppage time at the end of a one-sided contest Philip Hand raced on to a Cassidy through ball to rattle the net and make it five.