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Diarmuid O'Carroll's late show saves the day for Crusaders


Delight: Diarmuid O’Carroll and Richard Clarke celebrate

Delight: Diarmuid O’Carroll and Richard Clarke celebrate

©Russell Pritchard / Presseye

Delight: Diarmuid O’Carroll and Richard Clarke celebrate

Crusaders remain on course for a fourth successive League Cup final after Diarmuid O’Carroll’s dramatic 90th minute winner.

Paul Heatley, one of eight players who started last Saturday’s game and was left out last night, proved to be a super-sub.

Coming off the bench on the hour, he started and almost finished the move which led to Crusaders taking the lead for the first time in the 78th minute — O’Carroll heading in at the near-post from Heatley’s corner.

Then, after another substitute, Neil McCafferty, had brought Coleraine level with a 25-yard free-kick, Heatley twisted and turned his way into the penalty box to win a last-gasp penalty.

Michael Doherty, diving to his left, saved O’Carroll’s spot kick but he could not keep out the rebound and the beaten finalists for the last two years were through to the quarter-finals.

Coleraine boss Oran Kearney retained seven of the team that won Saturday’s game at Dungannon, but it was one of the other two that finished the game, who gave the visitors the lead.

Ruari Harkin’s crossfield pass was deflected into the path of Darren McCauley, whose first time ball found Mark Miskimmin with his back to goal but, acrobatically, he went for the overhead kick and the ball flew past Jack Duffin.

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Crusaders were playing like a team who were still getting to know each other while the visitors were at least managing to string a few passes together.

Still, it needed a flying save by Doherty to deny Gary McCutcheon, after Emmet Friars had flicked on a Nathan Hanley free-kick.

Baxter moved up to the main grandstand at the start of the second half, amazingly, to confront a Crusaders fan, who, he felt, had obviously too much to say.

His reserve goalkeeper, Duffin, had to make two saves in the space of three second-half minutes to deny Miskimmin and the reward came immediately at the other end with a Crusaders equaliser in the 68th minute, when Richard Clarke shot under Doherty to spark a frantic finale.

Crusaders: Duffin, Burns (Magowan 50), Robinson, Friars (Coates 79), Hanley; Clarke; Adamson, Snoddy, Cockroft (Heatley 61); O’Carroll, McCutcheon.

Coleraine: Doherty; Watt, Beverland, Ogilby, Mullan; Harkin, McNeill; McGinty, McCauley (McCafferty 72), Parkhill; Miskimmin.

Referee: Mervyn Smyth (Belfast).

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