Joy for David Jeffrey as Linfield stroll into last four
Linfield 3 Ards 2: Twenty years after he lifted the County Antrim Shield as captain of Ards, Linfield manager David Jeffrey knocked his old side out of the competition with a 3-2 win at Windsor Park.
The scoreline suggests a tight encounter, but in reality Linfield had the game wrapped up after goals from Brian McCaul, Kyle McVey and Matthew Tipton before Ards added two consolation strikes from Andrew Mitchell and Craig McMillen in injury time.
The Blues opened the scoring in the 17th minute when McCaul headed home a Niall Quinn corner. McVey added a second in the 26th minute with a powerful header before Tipton secured the win with a scrappy goal.
Andy Waterworth had the first chance of the match in the 12th minute when his turn and shot was tipped over the bar by Ards goalkeeper Simon Steele.
Steele was forced into action again in the 16th minute when he had to turn Quinn's 20 yard free-kick over the bar with a smart one handed save.
Quinn used his left foot to great affect again, from the following corner. The left-back whipped in a marvellous in-swinging corner that was headed home by an unmarked Brian McCaul from inside the six yard box.
The goal stood despite Steele's furious remonstrations with linesman Andrew Neeson. The former Carrick Rangers goalkeeper believed he had been bundled over before McCaul put the ball into the net.
Ards were undone by another corner-kick in the 26th minute when Quinn played they ball short to Jamie Mulgrew who crossed for McVey to head home unopposed. It was McVey's first goal for Linfield since moving from Coleraine in the summer.
Ards had their best chance of the half when Mark McClelland flicked on an Andy Hunter cross, which Ryan Henderson – who joined Ards in the summer after a forgettable year at Windsor Park – put just over the bar with a spectacular free-kick.
Linfield goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey made his first save of the match 10 minutes after the break when Mark McClelland drilled a low shot towards goal from just outside the box. The Northern Ireland international got down well to turn the ball round the post.
The Blues eventually did get their third in the 74th minute when McCaul's shot deflected off striker Tipton, causing the ball to trundle underneath Steele and creep over the Ards goal line.
McCaul wheeled away in celebration, but Tipton was quick to point out it was he who got the vital touch.
Substitute Mitchell scored a late consolation goal for Ards in the 90th minute, tapping in from two yards after some good work by Neil Dougan.
McMillen scored a magnificent solo goal in the 92nd minute to add a veneer of respectability to the scoreline for Ards, but in truth it was a relatively easy win for Linfield.
Linfield: Tuffey; BJ Burns, Ward, McVey, Quinn; Carvill (Brown 79 mins), Knowles, Mulgrew, McCaul (Lowry 79 mins); Tipton, Waterworth (Thompson 63 mins). Unused Subs : M.Clarke, McAllister
Ards: Steele; Hall, Hunter, Gibson, McCullough; Smith (Gordon 70 mins), Faulkner; Dougan, Henderson, Roy (McMillen 58 mins) ; McClelland (Mitchell 58 mins). Unused sub: Spence, Davidson
Referee: Andrew Davey (Bangor).