County Antrim Shield: Glenn Ferguson proud as Ballymena United thwart Crusaders
Crusaders 0-2 Ballymena United
Glenn Ferguson heaped praise on his Ballymena United players after they crushed Crusaders' County Antrim Shield dream.
Early second-half goals from David Cushley and Tony Kane won the game for the Sky Blues, but it could - and should - have been a more emphatic win.
They had the ball in the net on two other occasions, at the end of each half, as well as Cushley crashing a shot against the crossbar when it was still 0-0.
"We deserved the win and possibly could have scored another couple of goals," said Ferguson, known as Spike.
"We had a goal disallowed that shouldn't have been, David Cushley hit the underside of the crossbar which stayed out somehow.
"It was a good, comprehensive performance. Scoring goals is difficult here and keeping a clean sheet is even harder. It was a great performance all-round."
Two goals in the space of five minutes early in the second-half won the game for the Braidmen, with Kane's effort quickly following that of Cushley.
And it was a victory they deserved after creating by far the better of the chances throughout the game.
Indeed, their bright start was almost rewarded after just two minutes when Allan Jenkins' through ball put Cushley through on goal. He looked certain to score, but instead of getting a shot off, he hesitated and Crusaders goalkeeper Sean O'Neill was in the right place to make the save.
Cushley was just inches away from breaking the deadlock with half an hour gone.
He fired in a stunning half-volley that cracked off the crossbar. Jenkins pounced on the rebound, but Colin Coates got there just in time to block his shot.
Even when the Sky Blues did have the ball in the net, the goal was disallowed.
O'Neill raced from his goal to deal with a long ball up the middle and collided with his own defender Josh Robinson as Jenkins closed in.
The ball ended up in the net, but referee Andrew Davey judged that the Ballymena player had pushed Robinson into O'Neill and booked him.
Cushley finally opened the scoring 10 minutes after half-time when O'Neill sliced a clearance straight to his feet on the corner of the 18 yard box and he fired home into the empty net.
Cushley was also involved in the second goal. His burst into the penalty area was halted, but the ball only ran as far as Kane, who curled his right-footed shot into the top corner.
Kane had the ball in the net again in injury-time when he tapped in from close range, but he had strayed offside.
CRUSADERS: O'Neill, Burns, Robinson, Coates, McClean, Carvill, Molloy, Mitchell, Heatley, Owens, O'Carroll. Subs: Stewart, Snoddy, Clarke, O'Flynn, Forsythe.
BALLYMENA UNITED: Nelson, Ervin, McVey, Taylor, Faulkner, Ruddy, Kane, Teggart, Gawley, Jenkins, Cushley. Subs: McBride, Magennis, Kane, Shevlin, Millar.
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor)