Kane's moment of extra-time magic spells the end for brave Ards' hopes
Ballymena United 3-2 Ards
A stunning strike by Tony Kane in the dying embers of extra-time fired holders Ballymena United into the semi-finals of the Bet McLean League Cup.
It was tough luck on Ards, who had fought back magnificently from a 2-0 deficit to draw level with their hosts, but they could do nothing about Kane's wonderful winner.
The visitors got off to the brighter start with Ross Glendinning called into action in the 11th minute when he had to tip over Guillaume Keke's header that was creeping under the crossbar.
Aaron Hogg was finally made to work in the 16th minute when he pushed behind Leroy Millar's deflected shot and from the corner Gary Thompson's mis-hit half-volley was flicked just wide by Emmet Friars.
Colin Nixon's men were continuing to look threatening and in the 26th minute Keke found Jonah Mitchell in the box who teed it up for David McAllister but again his shot lacked the power to overly trouble Glendinning.
They were made to pay for those missed opportunities when the Sky Blues took the lead in the 29th minute.
It was a disaster for former United favourite Johnny Taylor when he was caught dozing by Johnny McMurray and he ran on and on before picking his moment to slide the ball into Cathair Friel's path and he rolled home his 10th goal of the campaign.
Only Kofi Balmer's fantastic last-gasp lunging block denied Keke an equaliser in the 35th minute and seconds later Hogg had to be quick at the other end to come off his line to deny McMurray.
The home side doubled their advantage four minutes after the restart, although there was a slice of fortune in it as when Thompson's shot was blocked there was a skirmish in the six-yard box and an attempted clearance appeared to hit off Thompson and cross the line.
It was a similar tale for Ards as they halved the deficit five minutes later with another goal shrouded in mystery, McAllister's cross causing an almighty scramble with Keke and Michael Ruddy in the mix but the last touch could well have been from a home defender.
There was no doubting who scored the Ards equaliser, though, as Taylor made amends for his earlier mistake by rising unchallenged to head home McAllister's in-swinging corner in the 63rd minute.
They almost took the lead six minutes later when Keke rounded Glendinning but the keeper kept his cool to dive and push the effort behind and from the corner David Elebert's header was cleared off the line by Kane.
The home side almost snatched the winner in the dying seconds when Millar lashed in a left-foot volley that looked destined for the net but he was denied by a wonderful save by Hogg.
We looked to be heading for penalties only for Kane's moment of brilliance, a goal worthy of winning any match but very tough on an enterprising Ards side.