Moneyslane had to hit the net 16 times on Saturday to see off plucky Lurgan Town.
The teams were tied at 4-4 after extra-time as Slane began the defence of their Alan Wilson Cup crown and were made to score 12 penalties to make it through in sudden death.
They had to come from behind three times and also had Jonny Gibson dismissed at 4-3 down but Gareth Rees kept up his scoring form while Ally Quinn netted and Gregg Harrison bagged a brace in a high-scoring game at the Lurgan Town arena.
“What a fantastic display of character and desire from the players,” said boss David Johnstone. “We didn’t play well by our standards and at 3-1 down with 15 minutes to go, it wasn’tlooking good. Good teams find a way and hats off to the players for digging deep. What a composed finish by Ally Quinn.
“We then again defended poorly and went down to 10 men but again the players found a way. It was a superb pass from Michael Ferguson, who was influential when he came on, and a brilliant finish by Gregg Harrison.
“Penalties can be a lottery but I will say this, scoring 12 out of 12 is not luck. It takes composure and belief. A big thank you to the fans for getting behind the players.
“It has been two tough games against Lurgan Town. It will be interesting to see if Windmill Stars meet the same level of intensity, work rate, aggression and effort when they visit in the league.”
Slane, without five regulars including Jonny Kernaghan and Neil Taylor, fell behind on 30 minutes when possession was squandered and a low cross across the box was side footed home.
Town’s lead didn’t last long as the away team broke down their right and Brian Quilty got to the by-line and cut the ball back for Rees to fire home.
Despite stern words from the Slane management team in the dressing room, the home team made it 2-1 with their first attack when too much room was allowed on the right w and a cross looped over Stevie White for a Town player to head home.
Michael Ferguson came on for his debut but on 65 minutes, things got worse for Slane when Lurgann broke from their own half and after a series of passes and failed attempted clearances, the ball was slotted home to make it 3-1.
Slane boss David Johnstone brought on Gibson and Adair to go 4-3-3 and got the reward on 80 minutes as Gregg Harrison back-heeled the ball home from five yards.
With the clock ticking towards 90 minutes, it looked like Slane were out but then a cross was flicked on by Rees for Quinn to volley into the roof of the net and send the game into extra-time.
Lurgan took advantage of poor defending to make it 4-3 before Gibson received his second yellow as it again looked like curtains for the holders.
They’re made of stern stuff and they sent the match to penalties with a last minute strike. New signing Ferguson took possession on the half way line, beat a player before chipping the ball into the path of Harrison who showed great composure in letting the ball run across his body before smashing into the bottom corner.
That meant penalties, where the first 22 penalties all found the net before Stevie White dived to his left to save, allowing Brian Quilty to step up and calmly score sending Slane through.
MONEYSLANE: White, Coulter, Quinn, Shilliday, Peden, Ervine, Stewart, Harrison, Rees, Quilty, Bingham.
Subs: Adair, Gibson, Ferguson