Crusaders finally take control against battling PSNI
Crusaders 4 PSNI 2
David Cushley's glorious double last night helped book Crusaders a slot in the final of the Toals County Antrim Shield.
Stephen Baxter's boys will face Linfield in the decider early in the New Year.
The Crues certainly had to work for their success at Seaview against a gritty PSNI outfit, who battled back twice to level, but finally had to admit defeat to that man Cushley.
Michael Carvill and Paul Heatley were also on target for the home team, while Owen Moody and Paul McDowell netted for Ian Campbell's boys.
Surprisingly, Crues boss Stephen Baxter stuck with most of the team that pinched three points at Dungannon Swifts on Saturday, making only three changes, handing a starting slot to Andrew Mitchell, Cushley and Michael Kerr.
And the Crues wasted no time to forge into the lead, Carvill pulling the ball back for Cushley, who drilled it under the outstretched arm of David Harrison.
The same pair combined again minutes later, but this time defender Ashton McDermott got in a telling block.
Jordan Forsythe then threaded a great pass into Declan Caddell, but just as he pulled the trigger, Mark McCullagh produced a desperate saving tackle to deflect the ball over the top.
Incredibly, the PSNI were level three minutes before the break. Sean O'Neill managed to beat away a Lukasz Adamczyk shot with the ball breaking kindly for Moody, who rolled it into the empty net.
However, the shocked home fans were on their feet again less than 60 seconds later. Forsythe fizzed in a right wing cross for Carvill to touch home at the near post with the flick of his head.
Astonishingly, Campbell's team clawed their way back again on 52 minutes. O'Neill will have nightmares as he charged from his line and was left totally exposed when Andrew Blackledge picked out McDowell, who stroked the ball to the empty net.
The Crues were out of luck 14 minutes from time when Gavin Whyte's effort struck a post.
But Cushley struck again on 80 minutes. He was flattened by a robust challenge from Blackledge 20 yards out and the striker dusted himself down to hammer the free kick past Harrison.
Heatley put the icing on the cake for the Crues by blasting home a Whyte cross deep into injury time.
Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland (Roohi 87), Mitchell, Carvill (Owens 72), Cushley, Caddell (Whyte 46), Forsythe, Clarke, Heatley, Kerr.
Unused subs: Dougherty, Jallow, Smith.
PSNI: Harrison, Blackledge, McCullagh, McDermott, Wright, Berry (McCrory 73), Moody, Hutchinson, Adamczyk, McDowell (Anderson 83), McWilliams.
Unused subs: Wright, Kirk.
Referee: Evan Boyce (Ballygowan).
Match rating: 8/10.