Waterford FC came back from the dead to avoid a shock FAI Cup defeat against First Division Athlone Town at Athlone Town Stadium last night, winning 4-2 on penalties after a 4-4 draw after extra-time.
Goals either side of half-time from Anthony Wordsworth and Shane Griffin looked to have Marc Bircham's side cruising towards the next round but the dismissal of former Barnet midfielder Wordsworth on 68 minutes changed the game, with the Midlanders racing 3-2 ahead with three goals in 13 minutes. Debutant Glen McAuley scored twice from the spot either side of a Stephen Meaney strike to put last season's semi-finalists in the driving seat with two minutes to go.
Just when it looked like Waterford were heading for an early exit, debutant and former Premier League player Greg Halford headed home from a Griffin corner in the first minute of stoppage time to take the game to extra-time.
Halford spent the majority of his career in the Championship but had Premier League stints with Reading, Sunderland and Wolves.
He was signed by Roy Keane during his time at Sunderland manager, although there was no love lost between the duo with the Corkman declaring the £3.5m signing from Reading a 'disaster.'
Halford bounced back under Keane's old foe Mick McCarthy at Wolves and described Keane's man management skills as 'non existent.'
OH MY GOD! 🤯— SSE Airtricity League (@SSEAirtricityLg) July 23, 2021
Absolutely incredible goal by Glen McAuley to score his hat trick and equalise for Athlone Town, the game goes to penalties! 😱@AthloneTownAFC 4-4 @WaterfordFCie
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Bircham himself was then dismissed before play resumed after his protests to the officials, presumably over the penalty decisions, were deemed too vociferous. There would be further drama at the end of extra-time with George Forrest nodding what looked to be the winner over the line in the 122nd minute only for McAuley to respond from the kick-off in stunning fashion to complete his hat-trick and take the game to penalties.
Paul Martin then emerged as the hero for the visitors with saves from Jack Reynolds and Dylan Hand in the shoot-out as the two-time winners survived a major scare to take their place in Tuesday's second round draw.
If one shock was avoided in the Midlands, there was one at the UCD Bowl. Shelbourne might be riding high 11 points clear and undefeated at the top of the SSE Airtricity League First Division table but their FAI Cup ambitions were ended as UCD ran out 2-0 winners.
Colm Whelan gave the students a 56th minute lead from the penalty spot after he had been fouled by Georgie Poynton before Harvey O'Brien ensured one of the first major shocks of this year's competition with a bullet header past Brendan Clarke to make it 2-0 with 10 minutes to go.
Shelbourne's exit was not the only surprise result involving First Division sides with Wexford FC, with just one league win all season, advancing with a 3-0 win over Cabinteely at Ferrycarrig Park. The three goals came in a nine minute spell before the break with Kyle Robinson opening the scoring on 34 minutes before Lorcan Fitzgerald doubled their lead from the penalty spot seven minutes later. Jack Moylan then added a third two minutes before the break to ensure the win.
It was also a memorable night for Paddy O'Sullivan as he scored a brilliant first-half hat-trick as Maynooth University Town overcame Malahide Utd 4-0 at the NUI Astro with Jackson Ryan completing the win with a fourth 17 minutes from time.
It was also a good night for fellow Leinster Senior League side Kilnamanagh as they beat their Dublin rivals St Kevin's Boys 4-1 at St Aidan's in Whitehall.
Former St Patrick’s Athletic Dean Clarke player opened the scoring for the visitors in the seventh minute and while Jordan Cromwell levelled up 13 minutes later, further gals from Seán Byrne, Gary McCabe and Clarke again ensured a comfortable passage into the next round for Keith Foy’s side.