AYRE United booked their place in the semi-finals of the GH Corlett Woods Cup at the expense of their northern rivals RYCOB after extra-time at Schoill ree Goree on Saturday afternoon.
Youthie appeared to be on course to progress after Martyn Murphy’s two goals had given them a 2-1 lead but, with just seconds left of normal time, Stephen Jordan stole in to net a dramatic 94th minute equaliser for Ayre to send the tie into extra-time.
And the Tangerines never looked back in the additional half-hour, scoring no fewer than three times to knock the hosts out of the annual Division Two cup competition.
If it was Jordan who made his mark in the final few seconds of normal time, he very nearly set the tone for the match in the opening minute when he cut in from his right wing position and fired wide.
After Rob Moreton sent a half-volley wide for Youthie, it was the visitors who enjoyed a good spell early on, pinning the hosts back into their half and creating several good chances, notably when Chris Duggan and Paul Kennish forced goalkeeper Greg Radcliffe into action.
However, it was RYCOB who broke the deadlock in the 17th minute slightly against the run of play thanks to a howler from Ayre keeper Andy Ball.
Matty Boyde picked up the ball in a congested midfield and picked out a superb pass to send Murphy racing clear down the right. Ball came racing out of his goal to meet him but misjudged it and completely missed the ball, allowing Murphy to slot into an empty net from an angle to make it 1-0.
The visitors tried to muster an immediate response and went agonisingly close when the impressive Duggan curled in a free-kick which deceived everyone but crashed back off the crossbar.
Despite that miss, it wasn’t long before Ayre found themselves level and, like the opening goal, it came about courtesy of a big mistake by the opposition. The visitors launched the ball deep into the penalty area and, under no pressure and with relatively little danger, a Youthie defender contrived to slice his clearance horribly into the path of the lurking Jason Craine and the lethal frontman made no mistake, blasting the ball home from close range.
No sooner were they level, Ayre very nearly went ahead when Duggan delivered a superb through ball to Craine inside the area but this time the striker was denied by a fine save by the feet of Radcliffe. Moments later Stephen Parrish also went close with a free-kick for the visitors.
But once again the Tangerines found themselves behind as a ruthless Youthie took full advantage of some sloppy marking when Glenn McGovern’s free-kick was only half cleared and fell straight to the feet of Murphy who fizzed a first-time shot low through a crowd of players and into the back of the net to give his side the lead at half-time.
With 11 minutes gone in the second half Youthie had a chance to double their lead when Moreton’s corner was only cleared as far as McGovern but the defender volleyed over the bar to let Ayre of the hook.
As the tackles started to fly in and the game began to spice up, chances became scarce for a while. However, that all changed in the 66th minute when Moreton was released down the right and he pulled the ball back across goal to the lurking Stephen Grose but the winger somehow turned the ball over the bar from virtually on the line - a miss which would later prove costly.
The hosts carved open the Ayre defence again minutes later but when Boyde’s mishit shot fell kindly to Moreton, the winger blazed over.
As the clock counted down, Ayre took on a greater sense of urgency as they pushed for a late equaliser and subbed on James Teare, Jamie Skillen and George Walmsley to inject new life into their play. But, after Craine sent a diving header off target when well positioned, the Tangerines seemed to run out of ideas as RYCOB closed in on victory.
However, in the dying seconds of the game with one last throw of the dice, the visitors launched a long throw into the box where Craine was able to flick the ball into the path of Jordan who seized his chance and buried the ball into the net to force extra-time with almost the last kick of the 90.
Buoyed by that goal, United began the additional 30 minutes with the bit fully between the teeth and it was no great surprise when they took the lead with Youthie still reeling from that last-gasp goal.
After Phil Quayle had forced Radcliffe into a save, the ball was eventually played back out to Duggan who burst back into the box and fired the ball low into the net to give Ayre the lead for the first time in the match.
They all but wrapped up the game on the stroke of half-time when the visitors worked the ball well down the right flank, Jordan’s resulting cross was flicked goalwards by Craine and Teare slid in to slot the ball home for 4-2.
To their credit, Youthie refused to give up and pulled a goal back in the 116th minute when sub Jamie Brew turned the ball in at the back post.
Any hopes of a RYCOB comeback were soon snuffed out though when Duggan surged past two defenders and his cross found its way to Teare who fired the ball into the bottom corner to book Ayre’s place in the semi-finals.
RYCOB: Greg Radcliffe, Graham Kennish, Ollie Blaker, Mike Nixon, Matty Boyde, Mark Faragher, Robert Moreton (Daniel Callow 75m), Craig Robinson (Shane Kinrade 83m), Martyn Murphy, Stephen Grose (Jamie Brew 73m)
Ayre United: Andy Ball, Kris Murdoch, Mark Cain (George Walmsley 73m), Stephen Parrish, Phil Quayle, Tony Corlett, Stephen Jordan, George Rawlinson (Jamie Skillen 71m), Paul Kennish (James Teare 66m), Jason Craine, Chris Duggan
Referee: Chris Dycher
Assistants: Peter Lewis and Rod Jones
Booked: Blaker, Nixon, Faragher (RYCOB), Cain, Corllet, Jordan (Ayre)
Man of the Match: Chris Duggan (Ayre) - caused the Youthie defence all sorts of trouble
Match rating: HHHHI