Crusaders 4
Ballymena United 3 (AET)
League Cup (Semi final)


4 - 3

Ballymena United

League Cup (Semi final)
Tuesday, December 17th, 2013
7:45 PM Kick-off

Declan Caddell (29)
Declan Caddell (66)
Gary McCutcheon (pen.) (70)
Jordan Owens (98)
David Cushley (24)
David Cushley (27)
David Cushley (45)

Team Managers
Stephen Baxter Glenn Ferguson

Starting Eleven
Sean O'Neill
Paul Leeman
Colin Coates
David Magowan
Craig McClean
Declan Caddell
Chris Morrow
Nathan Hanley
Eamon McAllister
Matthew Snoddy
Jordan Owens
Dwayne Nelson
Tony Kane .2
Mark McCullagh
Jonathan Taylor
Aaron Stewart .6
Mark Surgenor
Gavin Taggart
Alan Teggart
Gary Thompson
Allan Jenkins .10
David Cushley .11

Gary McCutcheon
Paul Heatley
David McMaster
David McAllister
Sean Cleary
Stuart Addis
Michael Ruddy
Alan Davidson .4
Gary Liggett
Shane Dolan

Gary McCutcheon for Matthew Snoddy (46)
Paul Heatley for Nathan Hanley (46)
David McMaster for Eamon McAllister (103)
Michael Ruddy for Mark McCullagh (46)
Alan Davidson for Mark Surgenor (99)
Shane Dolan for Alan Teggart (101)

Declan Caddell (62) David Cushley (47)
Gavin Taggart (53)
Gary Thompson (65)

Red Cards
None. None.

Match Officials

Colin Burns (Referee)

Match Report

AN EXTRA TIME header from Jordan Owens broke United's hearts and sent Crusaders through to a second successive North Belfast Derby League Cup final on a night of high drama at Seaview.

All connected with Ballymena United will have woken up on Wednesday morning utterly perplexed as to how their side contrived to throw away a 3-1 half time lead, missing out on a major final in the process.

The Sky Blues took the lead as early as the 24th minute; Tony Kane's cross was met with a bullet header from the unmarked David Cushley to get United off to the perfect start. The huge travelling support was in dreamland just three minutes later when Cushley again found the target, this time rifling past Sean O'Neill in the Crusaders goal after clever play by captain Allan Jenkins.

Ballymena's two goal advantage didn't last long as Declan Caddell fired past Dwayne Nelson to give the home side a glimmer of hope. The expected Crusaders onslaught didn't really materialise and it was in fact the visitors who struck next, the impressive David Cushley making the most of Sean O'Neill's hesitation to send his side seemingly to the brink of the League Cup final.

However, anyone versed in following Ballymena United will know it's never over until the fat lady sings, and so it proved on this occasion with Crusaders kicking off the second half in revitalised fashion. United could and should though have put the game to bed just after the hour mark when David Cushley was denied a stunning fourth goal only for the woodwork to come to the beaten Sean O'Neill's rescue.

This proved the decisive turning point, moments later substitute Gary McCutcheon's free kick was headed in by the unmarked Declan Caddell to bring the hosts right back into the game. Soon after, Tony Kane appeared to fell Paul Heatley in the box allowing former United hero Gary McCutcheon to step up and level the scores much to Ballymena's dismay.

There was to be no further scoring in normal time with Paul Leeman going closest for the hosts with a thumping header against the crossbar, before Alan Teggert had a late chance to win the game for United but shot well wide of the frame of the goal.

The decisive goal came midway through the first period of extra time, Jordan Owens found himself unmarked in the box and rose to head home a corner which had been carelessly conceded by United. There was to be one further moment of controversy as David Cushley rushed through on goal with seconds remaining before being bundled over by Sean O'Neill in what looked like a penalty kick and sending off for the Crusaders goalkeeper. Much to the fury of the United fans behind the goal, referee Colin Burns waved play on denying United a much coveted place in the NIFL League Cup final and in the process ensuring Crusaders make it three final appearances in a row.

United will hope Crusaders already have one eye on the final against their fierce rivals Cliftonville when the two sides meet again on Saturday (3pm) this time at the Showgrounds for a vital league clash.

Match report written by Jordan Miller

Squad Statistics (as at December 17th, 2013)

2013-2014 All Time
Dwayne Nelson (GK)29 17 - 175 -
Jonathan Taylor25 223536
Aaron Stewart24 2011896
Tony Kane26 251936
Mark Surgenor27 12214517
Mark McCullagh26 24 - 31 -
Alan Teggart27 23410119
Gary Thompson23 2356310
Gavin Taggart29 10 - 1295
Allan Jenkins32 2349515
David Cushley24 201014133
Michael Ruddy (sub)20 171381
Alan Davidson (sub)25 13 - 518
Shane Dolan (sub)25 174307

League Table (as at December 17th, 2013)

Pld W D L +/- Pts
1. Linfield 20 13 3 4 20 42
2. Crusaders 20 11 7 2 22 40
3. Cliftonville 20 11 5 4 16 38
4. Portadown 20 10 5 5 21 35
5. Glentoran 20 9 7 4 9 34
6. Glenavon 20 7 5 8 2 26
7. Dungannon Swifts 20 7 4 9 -6 25
8. BALLYMENA UTD 20 7 3 10 -7 24
9. Ballinamallard Utd 20 7 3 10 -20 24
10. Coleraine 20 4 6 10 -11 18
11. Warrenpoint Town 20 4 4 12 -21 16
12. Ards 20 4 0 16 -25 12

* - Table split into two divisions of six.