NI League Cup: Dungannon Swifts defeat Cliftonville on penalties after a 1-1 draw

Swifts through after shoot-out

Holders Dungannon Swifts came from behind in extra-time against Cliftonville to advance to the semi-finals of the League Cup on penalties.

Midfielder Ryan Catney blazed the last spot-kick over the bar to send Kris Lindsay's side through.

After a scoreless 90 minutes, Johnny Lafferty cancelled out Levi Ives' stunning opener in the additional period.

Dungannon will meet either Linfield or Portadown in the last four.

Swifts endured a tough start to the season, which included the departure of manager Rodney McAree to join Coleraine, but they have enjoyed a recent upturn in form and are unbeaten after four games in November.

Having defeated Ballymena United in February to lift a senior trophy for the first time, Dungannon are now a step closer to retaining their silverware.

Slow burner as keepers shine

What ended as a dramatic and engrossing encounter began as a lethargic affair with neither team impressing in the early stages.

While it may not have caught fire completely, the game did become a much more entertaining spectacle after the opening half hour.

The stars of the show during the regulation period were undoubtedly goalkeepers Brian Neeson and Niall Morgan.

Reds keeper Neeson stood tall to deny Lafferty in the only clear chance of the first half before Morgan was called into action to twice stop Jay Donnelly early in the second half.

Donnelly was Cliftonville's main threat throughout, with several of his efforts cleared off the line.

At the other end the Swifts continued to create opportunities, the best of which fell to Mark Patton who could not slot past the onrushing Neeson having sprung the offside trap.

Appeals from the hosts were also waved away when Rory Donnelly was convinced that his back post header had crossed the line before Morgan was able to palm it away.

Swifts show fighting spirit

Ives' fantastic long-distance strike into the top corner momentarily knocked the wind out of the visitors in the 98th minute and it appeared their reign as cup holders might be drawing to a conclusion.

With the last chance of the match the lively Lafferty latched onto a long ball before poking beyond Neeson to send the game into a shootout.

Gormley and Catney both missed the target from the spot while Morgan kept out substitute Stephen Garrett's attempt.

Neeson's strong hand denied Ally Teggart but converted penalties from Paul McElroy, Chris Hegarty and Jarlath O'Rourke was enough to send Dungannon through.

Portadown host Linfield in the final quarter-final on Tuesday 4 December at Shamrock Park, with the winner taking on Dungannon in the last four a week later.

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