Morrow kills off Ballymena United
Ballymena Utd 0 Crusaders 2: Chris Morrow was the star of the show as Crusaders left Ballymena United out in the cold at a freezing Showgrounds and booked a place in the semi-final of the Co-operative Insurance Cup.
Lisburn Distillery now await Stephen Baxter’s men at Ballyskeagh on February 1 and with two-goal hero Morrow in this form they will fancy their chances of progressing to the final.
Stuart Dallas served notice of the visitors intentions in the fifth minute when his neat shot on the turn saw him test Dwayne Nelson with a shot from 12 yards.
But Dallas played a key role in the opening goal five minutes later when he put the artistic touch to Stephen McBride's industry by delivering a peach of a ball right onto Chris Morrow's head and his flicked effort left Dwayne Nelson floundering.
The former Coagh United man was running the show, linking superbly with the raiding David McMaster on the right and when he crossed Jordan Owens should have done better with his header that was scooped up by Nelson.
It was one-way traffic, Morrow whizzing a half-volley just over in the 17th minute and moments later Dallas had a goal rightly ruled out for offside as United came under constant onslaught.
It was going to take something remarkable to get United a hold on the game and it nearly arrived in the 38th minute when Andy Smith latched onto goalkeeper Niall Murphy’s loose clearance and from the edge of the centre circle, looped the ball goalwards only for the shotstopper to get back and grab the ball below his crossbar with United claiming it had crossed the line.
United should have been level at the break when Nathan Hanley’s weak centre found Eamonn Murray but after taking a touch to get the ball out of his feet he then shot over.
On 67 minutes United's top scorer Gary McCutcheon swivelled in the box but his shot on the turn flew narrowly wide.
It proved crucial as the visitors were two goals to the good five minutes later thanks to Morrow’s eighth goal of the season when he converted from the spot.
There was some confusion at the Showgrounds as Owens had nodded home McMaster’s cross only for referee Stephen Weatherall to bring play back for a push by a Ballymena defender in the box but there was no doubting Morrow’s class as he finished with ease and secured a last four spot.
Ballymena United: Nelson, M. Smith, Stewart, Watson, Gage, Surgenor (R. Gibson 50), Haveron (Berry 84), Hanley (McCaughern), A. Smith, McCutcheon, Murray. Subs not used: Brown, Colligan.
Crusaders: Murphy, D. Gibson, McBride, Magowan, Magee, Morrow, Caddell, Dallas, J. Owens, Arthurs (Rainey 75), McMaster (Halliday 87). Subs not used: Montgomery, K. Owens, Keenan.
Referee: Stephen Weatherall (Belfast).