Willow Park made their exit from the FAI Intermediate Cup when Cobh Wanderers won by four to three on penalty kicks after 90 minutes and extra time had failed to separate the teams.
The third round replay at DPD Park last Sunday afternoon had afforded Willow the opportunity to advance at the second time of asking. However, in spite of having a number of chances to score, Declan Holohan's men could not find a way past Cobh goalkeeper Mark Power. The lottery of a penalty shoot-out lead to success for the visitors with amateur international Power saving two of Willows spot kicks.
It was a mouth-watering return to competitive action in the new year for Willow with the winners also securing a place in the FAI Cup. Having survived in Cork before Christmas, Willow were fancied to make home advantage count on this occasion.
The visitors settled quickly and forced two corner kicks in quick succession. The home team earned their first corner with 13 minutes played. Power then made the first of a number of fine saves when he pushed away a Glen Byrne strike. Home keeper, Dylan McGoey was also on top of his game as he made a good block to deny Cian O’Connor. With half an hour played, Power was again in action to tip over a Ryan Gaffey effort. There was little between the sides and a single score was always likely to be a winner as both defences generally dominated.
The home team did have the better chances in the second half but Cobh were dangerous on the counter attack. The best home spell was in the first 15 minutes following the resumption of play. Four corner kicks in the opening five minutes signalled their intent. Jack Quinn had a good chance to break the deadlock but from close range somehow failed to make contact with the ball.
Cobh, too, had chances through David Curran and O’Connor. Willow substitute Aaron O’Neill was denied by the keeper with Benny Magennis missing out on the opportunity to be the home hero when firing over late on. Gaffey had the last chance in stoppage time but extra time was now called upon.
Willow, once more, had the better chances. Kevin Murray had an early shot just clear the far post. Ciaran McGuinness had a further chance but the away goal still remained intact.
Both teams to be fair tried hard to avoid the lottery of a penalty shoot-out as, again in the second period, Willow had the two best chances. Gaffey fired wide while Murray was denied, what would surely have been the winner, by man of the match Power.
In the resulting penalty shoot-out, both sides missed their first attempt. The next six were all converted though and when Willows fifth effort was saved, Cobh had the opportunity to taste success. Eoin Hastings duly obliged with a well struck effort to send Cobh through and deny Willow a piece of club history in the process.