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Donnelly and Gormley blast Cliftonville into decider

By Keith Bailie

Ards 0 Cliftonville 2: Cliftonville booked their place in the final of the League Cup with a straightforward victory over Ards at Clandeboye Park.

Martin Donnelly and Joe Gormley both found the net in the first half of the semi-final, taking advantage of some horrendous errors by Ards.

The holders impressed throughout, while battling Ards were undermined by a ridiculous mistake by Graeme McKibbin just before half time, that allowed Gormley to kill the contest with the second goal of the match.

Cliftonville had a half chance in the ninth minute when Joe Gormley found himself in space inside the area, but the Reds' star striker could only find the side netting.

Ards had their best chance of the half in the 19th minute when Scott Davidson delivered the perfect cross, but Mark McClelland's cushioned header went just past the post.

In the 26th minute Ards right back Steven Gordon conceded a free-kick on the edge of the box, when he blocked the run of Martin Donnelly.

The former Crusaders winger dusted himself down for the free-kick, which he placed into the bottom corner. No doubt Niall Currie will have questions for his defence and goalkeeper, who put up the wall.

McKibbin made a smart save in the 42nd minute when Gormley cut the ball back for Boyce, but the Northern Ireland international's effort was kicked clear by the keeper.

Unfortunately for McKibbin he was exposed three minutes later. Gordon's attempted clearance headed towards the Ards goal, the former Bangor goalkeeper rushed out to clear his lines, but misjudged the ball and it bounced over his head and into the path of Gormley, who nudged it into the unguarded goal for his 25th goal of the season.

No doubt McKibbin wasn't helped by the wind, but errors like that go along way to explaining why Ards have agreed to bring in Alan Blayney when the transfer window opens in January.

Ards started the second half brightly, and almost pulled a goal back in the 49th minute when Davidson was slipped through, but Conor Devlin made an excellent save.

Ards midfielder William Faulkner had a great chance to score in the 67th minute when he evaded the Reds' defence, but again Devlin made a strong save, before former Ards defender Ronan Scannell cleared the danger.

Cliftonville can now look forward to another showpiece final, while Ards will return to the grind of a relegation battle.

Ards: McKibbin, Gordon (Spence 70 mins), Hunter, Armstrong, McCullough, Smith (Roy 70 mins), Faulkner, Davidson, Henderson, McMillen, McClelland (P. McDowell)

Subs Not Used: D.Cully, Gibson

Cliftonville: Devlin, R.Scannell, McGovern, Smyth, Seydak, Murray (Cosgrove 70 mins), McMullan, Doherty, Donnelly (C Scannell 89 mins), Boyce, Gormley

Subs Not Used: McNally, McNeill, O'Carroll

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast)

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