Dave Donnelly reports from Whitehall Stadium
Captain Darren Craven finished clinically on the counter-attack as Malahide United booked their place in the quarter-finals of the FAI Intermediate Cup with a 1-0 victory at Home Farm.
Eoin Murray had seen his penalty saved magnificently by Dylan McNulty only moments before and Malahide broke in numbers before Craven stroked home from just inside the area.
Two substitutes, Jordi Ebanda and Robert Duggan, who had joined the fray just moments earlier combined with Ebanda crossing for Duggan to tee up his skipper for the emphatic finish.
The Leinster Senior League pacesetters were well-matched by their second-tier opponents throughout and were fortunate to go in all-square at the break after Alex Prizeman struck the post.
Ger Coughlan’s took their moments of good fortune and made it seven wins in eight games in all competitions as they closed out the game with the minimum of fuss.
It was a credit to the home side that they were the better side for the best part of an hour and would have deserved to lead had Murray’s well-struck penalty beaten the Malahide keeper.
They set the pace in the early moments and created a couple of early half-chances, but couldn’t quite find the space to catch out a well-organised Malahide defence.
The visitors were the first to force a save of note as winger Cillian Timmins saw his shot from wide on the right pushed behind by 18-year-old keeper Liam Woodcock.
John Hand’s side continued to press and Christy Doran’s corner from the right bounced in the six-yard box only to land at the feet of a relieved Glen Daly, who hacked the ball clear.
Craven delivered another tantalising ball towards the back post but this time it was the Malahide strikers who were caught on their heels and the ball rolled out harmlessly for a goal kick.
Daly was forced off with a nasty-looking dental injury when he collided with his own goalkeeper and the advancing Sean Goulding and was replaced by Brian Foley.
The best chance of the half fell to the lively number ten Prizeman just before the break as he cut in from the left but, with McNulty beaten, he was desperate unlucky to see his curling shot crash back off the post.
The second half saw Home Farm continue to hold the upper hand and they looked set to take the lead when Prizeman drew a rash tackle in the box.
Midfielder Murray stepped up to take the kick and struck the ball firmly, low to his right, but the former Cambridge United stopper got down well to deny his schoolboy club with a firm hand.
Coughlan had already lined up Ebanda, Duggan and Garreth Craven before the penalty was awarded and he took the risk of introducing the trio as Murray lined up his kick.
The gamble paid off immediately as the visitors broke through Ebanda wide on the right and he played it inside for Duggan, and Craven left the resulting lay-off nestling in the back of the net.
Home Farm had their chances to level matters, Prizeman seeing his diving header blocked by the covering Karl Melling and sub Ronan Murtagh forced McNulty to save from a tight angle.
Malahide striker Levi Boardman saw his delicate chip rebound off the crossbar in between, but it wouldn’t have counted as he was called back for a very tight offside call.
The home side gambled in the latter stages in the hope of forcing a replay but Malahide tightened up and closed out the game on the front foot to book their place in the final eight.
Home Farm: Liam Woodcock; Sean Manley, Mark O’Brien, Jack McMullan, Fintan Kerins; Matt McEntee, Eoin Murray (Josh Douglas 70), Alex Prizeman; Padraig Gilsenan, Christy Doran (Niall Hoban 82), Sean Goulding (Ronan Murtagh 72).
Subs not used: Mark Osborne (gk), James Duff, Dean McNevin, David Pepper.
Malahide United: Dylan McNulty; Mark Brennan, Karl O’Brien, Glen Daly (Brian Foley 39), Karl Melling; Dylan Cashin, Darren Craven, Anto McKay (Robert Duggan 59); Cillian Timmins (Jordi Ebanda 59), Ciaran McGahan (Garreth Craven 59), Levi Boardman (Darren Doyle 81).
Subs not used: Ben Kelly (gk), Cillian Thompson.
Booked: Anto McKay (26), Dylan Cashin (90+3).
Referee: Barry Fitzpatrick.
Attendance: 120 (estimate).
Extratime.ie Player of the Match: Darren Craven (Malahide United).