Shamrock Rovers progressed to a semi-final clash with Derry City in the Setanta Sports Cup having finally overcome Cliftonville 3-1 on penalties in Solitude on Tuesday night.
Having lead 2-0 from the first leg, Cliftonville cancelled out the lead thanks to goals from Barry Johnston and Joe Gormley at the end of each half. The Hoops scored all their penalties thanks to Billy Dennehy, Chris Turner and Graham Garland. Oscar Jansson was once again the hero as he was in the recent Leinster Senior Cup penalty victory over Bohemians saving two of the Reds spot kicks.
The game's first chance fell to the home side and some of their fans may have thought they had taken the lead after only five minutes. Martin Donnelly's shot from outside the area hit the stanchion causing the net to ripple fooling the home support into believing he had opened the scoring.
Killian Brennan had a number of chances for the Hoops in the first half, two of which blazed over the bar and into the home support. He did go closest for Rovers in the opening 45 minutes though. Half way through the opening period, Rovers won a free kick and Brennan with his left foot floated it inches past the Cliftonville post.
Just before the half hour mark, Ciaran Caldwell got a shot away from twenty yards for the Reds with the outside of his boot but it went straight at Oscar Jansson in the Rovers goal.
Cliftonville were not to be denied and as half time approached they got the opening goal of the night. Martin Donnelly, who caused lot of difficulty to the Rovers defence in the game, put in a cross to the back post. Barry Johnstone, against his former club, was on hand to head by Oscar Jansson to the delight of the home crowd.
On the hour mark, Rovers pressure began to yield chances in front of the Cliftonville goal. Second half substitute Ronan Finn went close and Billy Dennehy went even closer hitting the side net with a shot that Eamonn Seydak did well to get a touch on.
Chris Turner then forced Brown to make a fine save. The ‘keeper touched the Ulsterman’s header onto the Cliftonville bar and Brennan couldn’t keep the rebound down.
Both sides then swapped chances. First Cliftonville's Ciaran Caldwell skied a great chance for the Reds over the bar and at the other end Conor McCormack flashed a shot just by the left post.
Jansson had to make a couple of smart saves both from Diarmuid Carroll and Martin Donnelly as the Swede smothered the Cliftonville opportunity.
Just when it seemed that Rovers were going to progress through, Cliftonville grabbed a 87th minute equaliser. Ciaran Caldwell put in an inviting cross on the right that Joe Gormley ran beautifully onto to head home.
In injury time, Killian Brennan nearly grabbed the winning goal. Ryan Brown pushed his shot onto the post, behind for a corner and sent the game into extra time.
In extra time, Killian Brennan hit the woodwork again for Rovers. He cut inside onto his right foot but his shot bounced back off the cross bar. Billy Dennehy, picking up a poor clearance by Brown, put a volley just over the crossbar onto the roof of the net.
Reds sub Stephen Garrett went close on 106 minutes. His shot was deflected by Conor Powell but Jansson was in the correct place to save low to his right.
With time up, Shamrock Rovers successfully converted their penalties as a combination of Oscar Jansson and the post saw the home side only manage one from four spot kicks. So despite their 2-0 win on the night, Cliftonville exit the competition with Shamrock Rovers progressing thanks to their second successful penalty shootout in eight days.
Cliftonville: Ryan Brown; Aaron Smyth (Joe Gormley, 73), Barry Holland, Dermot McVeigh, Eamon Seydak; Ciaran Caldwell, Ryan Catney (Stephen Garrett, 31), Barry Johnston, Martin Donnelly; Diarmuid O’Carroll, Chris Scannell (Liam Boyce, 80)
Subs not used: Ronan Scannell, John Connolly, Mark Clarke, Emmet Templeton,
Bookings: O’Carroll (99), Seydak (116)
Shamrock Rovers: Oscar Jansson; Sean Gannon, Colin Hawkins, Graham Gartland, Conor Powell; Killian Brennan, Chris Turner, Conor McCormack (Stephen Rice, 78), Billy Dennehy; Gary O’Neill (Gary Twigg, 84) Daryl Kavanagh (Ronan Finn, 55)
Subs not used: Lee Steacy, Craig Sives, Ken Oman, Aaron Green,
Bookings: Turner (113)
Referee: Mervyn Smyth
extratime.ie Man of the Match: Oscar Jansson, penalty saving hero once again for the Hoops
Macdara made his debut as a football supporter in Lansdowne Road watching Ireland defeat Liechtenstein. He still believes one day he will see his club Shamrock Rovers win an FAI Cup. You can follow Macdara on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/macdarabueller">@macdarabueller</a>