COUNTY ANTRIM SHIELD: Ballymena’s David Cushley fires late winner to break Larne hearts

Pacemaker Press 1/12/2015 Toals Co Antrim Shield SF'Ballymena's David Cushily scores the winner  in extra time during this evening's game at Inver Park in Larne.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 1/12/2015 Toals Co Antrim Shield SF'Ballymena's David Cushily scores the winner in extra time during this evening's game at Inver Park in Larne.'Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

0
Have your say

Ballymena United broke Larne hearts to book their place in the final of the Toals County Antrim Shield.

A late winner in extra-time from David Cushley finally settled this semi-final clash at Inver Park.

Cushley drilled a low shot past the despairing dive of Paddy Flood in the 109th minute to clinch a thrilling 3-2 victory for the Sky Blues.

The grandstand finish came after a entertaining Shield clash at Inver.

Trailing 1-0 to a superb opening goal from Stuart McMullan, Ballymena earned late redemption with an 89th-minute equaliser from Willie Faulkner.

Darren Henderson then gave the Sky Blues the lead in the first minute of extra-time, only for Conal McGrandless and Guillaume Keke to combine to force home a 97th-minute equaliser for the Championship 1 underdogs.

And with penalties beckoning, Cushley popped up with his 10th goal of the season in the 109th minute to claim a 3-2 victory.

The win sees Ballymena progress to the January 12 final where they will meet either Carrick or Linfield.

“That’s what Cush can do. He was quiet all night and then he scores the winner,” Ballymena boss Glenn Ferguson said.

“We showed a lot of character tonight. We went 1-0 down and scored a late equaliser. We then went 2-1 ahead and then conceded ourselves. We could have dropped our heads but we battled on and got the late winner.”

Larne forged ahead in the 76th minute courtesy of a wonder strike from McMullan, the defender arrowing a superb left-foot shot into the top corner from the edge of the box.

Faulkner earned Ballymena a lifeline with his equaliser in the 89th minute, the winger sending a left-foot volley past Flood.

Ballymena claimed the lead less than a minute into extra-time when substitute Henderson headed home after Flood had parried Faulkner’s initial shot.

It was almost 3-1 in the 95th minute, but Gareth Rodger’s header rebounded off the underside of the crossbar.

One minute later Larne were level, McGrandless and Keke combining to scramble home a header.

Both sides searched for a late winner, and Cushley provided the grandstand finish when he capitalised on a defensive lapse to hammer home a clinical left-foot shot past Flood.

LARNE: Flood, Bradley, Smith, McClean, Rodgers, McMullan, G. Gillan, McGrandless, Donnelly (McGonnall 86), Keke, McCabe. Subs not used: McManus, Todd, E. Gillan, Stitt.

BALLYMENA: Blayney, Ervin, Taylor, Rodger, McBride (Ferguson 81), Faulkner, Thompson (Henderson 81), Kane, Cushley, Jenkins, Tipton. Subs not used: Kane, Ruddy, McVey.

REFEREE: Ross Dunlop (Carrick)