Ballymena book semi-final spot with stellar victory at Seaview

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th 'Toals County Antrim Shield semi final match between Crusaders and Ballymena United at Seaview Belfast.' Ballymenas Tony Kane  celebrates after putting Ballymena 2-0 up'Photograph:/Cameron  Hamilton -Presseye

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 27th 'Toals County Antrim Shield semi final match between Crusaders and Ballymena United at Seaview Belfast.' Ballymenas Tony Kane celebrates after putting Ballymena 2-0 up'Photograph:/Cameron Hamilton -Presseye

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Ballymena United booked their place in the semi-finals of the Toals County Antrim Shield with a deserved 2-0 win over Crusaders last night.

Two goals in five second-half minutes helped the Sky Blues to their first victory at Seaview since August 2013.

David Cushley pounced on a miscued clearance by Sean O’Neill to fire in the opener in the 55th minute.

Tony Kane doubled the lead on the hour mark with a superb strike into the top corner from the edge of the box.

It was a steely victory for Ballymena who remain on course to repeat their Shield success of 2012, while the defeat saw Crusaders crash out of their second cup competition in the space of two weeks.

Ballymena should have taken the lead in the second minute, but after being played in Cushley was denied by the advancing O’Neill.

Cushley hit woodwork in the 32nd minute, the forward’s left-foot strike from 25 yards thundering off the underside of the crossbar.

The rebound fell to Allan Jenkins, but with an open goal beckoning Colin Coates got across to make a last-ditch block.

The Crues were gifted an opening in the 38th minute when Kyle McVey’s poor defensive header fell to Paul Heatley whose shot was blocked.

The ball then ricocheted to Jordan Owens who pulled his shot wide of the post.

Ballymena claimed the lead in the 55th minute courtesy of O’Neill’s howler.

The Crues keeper miscued a routine clearance straight into the path of Cushley who made no mistake with a clinical strike into the empty net.

It was 2-0 on the hour mark with a sensational strike from Kane.

Cushley was smothered out by the Crusaders defence inside the box, and when the ball fell to Kane 25 yards out he rifled a superb effort into the top corner.

Paul Heatley almost got Crusaders back into the game in the 86th minute, but after being played in by Michael Carvill the winger’s shot was saved by Nelson before Jim Ervin cleared.

CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Robinson (Stewart 44), Coates, McClean, Carvill, Molloy, Mitchell, (Snoddy 63) Heatley, Owens, O’Carroll (Forsythe 68).

Subs not used: Clarke, O’Flynn.

BALLYMENA: Nelson, Ervin, McVey, Taylor, Ruddy, Faulkner, T. Kane, Taggart, Gawley (Millar 85), Jenskins, Cushley.

Subs not used: McBride, Magennis, E. Kane, Shevlin.

Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)