Steel & Sons Cup: Michael McLellan puts H&W Welders back in festive final
H&W Welders 2-1 Crusaders Res
H&W Welders reached their second Steel & Sons Cup final in-a-row with a narrow win against Crusaders Reserves.
First-half goals from Josh Cahoon and Michael McLellan, either side of a Salou Jallow equaliser, booked the Welders return to Seaview for the showpiece final on Christmas morning.
The young Crues side, topped up with first-team squad players Richard Vauls, Stephen O'Flynn and Chris Morrow, performed well, without doing enough to earn the win.
Gary Smyth's men can now look forward to facing Albert Foundry in the final. It's a great opportunity for the Championship One club to banish the demons of last season, when they lost 4-1 to Carrick Rangers in the final.
The Welders almost had the lead after two minutes when McLellan fired in a shot from an acute angle, but Graeme McKibbin pushed the ball around the post.
From the resulting corner, Cahoon found room in the middle of a crowded penalty area to head the ball in at the near post for 1-0.
Crusaders Reserves almost equalised in the sixth minute when Jallow and Vauls combined down the left before Michael Dougherty made a fine save from Jamie Peoples' 10-yard effort.
The equaliser arrived in the 24th minute after a horrible mix-up between Scott McMillan and Dougherty. McMillan's short back-pass forced the experienced goalkeeper to come rushing off his line. His clearance was charged by Jallow, before the young forward knocked the ball into the unguarded net.
The Welders had the lead again in the 32nd minute. William Armstrong fed the ball into the path of Chris Middleton, he played a lovely ball across the front of goal and McLellan had the simple task of knocking the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.
The Welders dominated the majority of the second half althoiugh Ross Holden had a chance in injury time when Dougherty was caught outside his area, but the young midfielders missed the unguarded goal from 30-yards.
Crusaders Reserves: McKibbin; Kerr, Wilson (85 Gardiner), Stewart, Vauls; Holden, Anderson (79 O'Neill), Morrow, Jallow; Peoples (54 McPartland), O'Flynn. Subs Not Used: McKinty, Spiers.
H&W Welders: Dougherty; Devine, McMillan, McMurray, Armstrong; Middleton, Deans, Harris, Davidson; Cahoon, McLellan (83 Dougan). Subs Not Used: Galbraith, Bowers, Spence, Rainey.