Irish Cup semi-finals: Ferguson aiming to extend United cup run

Ballymena United manager Glenn Ferguson
Ballymena United manager Glenn Ferguson saw his side lose 2-1 to Glenavon in last year's final
Irish Cup semi-final: Ballymena United v Portadown
Venue: The Oval, Belfast Date: Saturday, 21 March, 2015 Kick-off: 17:30 GMT
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster medium wave and the BBC Sport website

Ballymena United manager Glenn Ferguson hopes his side can continue their Irish Cup heroics by beating Portadown in Saturday's semi-final at the Oval.

The Sky Blues beat Cliftonville with an injury-time goal in the sixth round and recovered to see off H&W Welders deep into added time in the quarter-finals.

"With Ballymena, nothing appears to be straightforward. There always seems to be an edge about it," said Ferguson.

"It's good for the supporters and the neutrals, but not for the manager."

"We've had a lot of serious injuries this year but the runs we've had in the League Cup and Irish Cup have kept our season alive.

"It's been a cup year for us, that's for sure. We've been up and down in the league and that's something we need to improve on," added the United boss, whose side were beaten by Glenavon in last year's Irish Cup decider.

Ballymena trailed 1-0 against the Reds at Solitude in February, but two last-gasp David Cushley free-kicks saw them progress to the last eight.

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Glenn Ferguson's side have staged last-gasp heroics in this year's Irish Cup

Ferguson's men then found themselves 2-0 down to the Welders at Tillysburn with 15 minutes remaining, but responded by scoring three times, Gary Thompson securing the winner five minutes into time added on.

"Tillysburn is a very hard place to go to. We were two goals down and when Matthew Tipton missed from the penalty spot, things weren't looking good.

"I knew we were still in with a chance though as the Welders were defending deeper and deeper and they looked out on their feet. We put them under pressure, but I was preparing for extra-time when the winner went in."

The three previous meetings between the top-flight sides this season have yielded 18 goals, with 10 of those coming in a 5-5 draw in the Premiership at Shamrock Park in mid-January.

"Everything you teach your players from the coaching manual went out the window that day," admitted the former Linfield and Glenavon striker.

"Portadown have a lot of firepower in their ranks but we have match-winners on our side too. It has the making of an open game with chances being created and goals scored.

"We'll need to put in a good performance and have a bit of luck along the way.

"A lot of Portadown's players have been there and done it before while our players are still learning. We've been in two domestic finals over the last year and another appearance would be a massive boost for the club, only this time we want to win it.

"I've played with some of the players in their squad and I know what they'll be saying in the dressing room beforehand. Once the whistle blows, all friendships will be put to one side though."

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