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Joe Gormley strikes at the death to break Ards hearts


Jumping Joe: Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley celebrates after netting the extra-time winner against Ards

Jumping Joe: Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley celebrates after netting the extra-time winner against Ards

Jumping Joe: Cliftonville striker Joe Gormley celebrates after netting the extra-time winner against Ards

Joe Gormley broke Ards' hearts with a winner less than 30 seconds from the end of extra-time to send Cliftonville into the final of the County Antrim Shield.

Belfast Telegraph Championship 1 side Ards had led the Premiership champions at half time and they were agonisingly close to taking the semi final to a penalty shoot-out, which would have set-up an all-North Down Shield final, but Gormley's sensational last-gasp acrobatic effort killed that dream, giving the Reds a 2-1 win.

Cliftonville made a lively start to the game, with Jude Winchester missing a chance in the third minute. The midfielder skipped free inside the area before shooting into the side netting.

After 20 minutes of Cliftonville dominance, the Championship club found their feet.

Their first notable chance arrived in the 24th minute when Gary Warwick unleashed a 25-yard drive that clipped the top of Conor Devlin's crossbar.

Ards went one better in the 29th minute. Warwick delivered a dangerous ball towards the back post which goalkeeper Devlin flapped at. The alert Ross Arthurs reacted first and steered the ball into the roof of the net from six yards.

Devlin claimed that he had been fouled in the lead up to the goal, but referee Ross Dunlop wasn't interested. in his protests.

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Ards held onto their lead for the first nine minutes of the second half, before the Reds eventually found a way through.

Winchester played a smart ball down the line that allowed Gormley to hare down the left-flank. He got to the by-line before cutting the ball back across the six-yard box where Martin Donnelly burst through to ram the ball home from close range.

With Ards conceding numerous free-kicks, Martin Donnelly was starting to find his range.

The winger hit the foot of the post and forced Ards goalkeeper Graeme McKibbin into a smart save with two different set-piece efforts. Both teams had chances in the final five minutes, but with the scores level the game entered 20 minutes of extra-time.

In extra-time Gormley, David McDaid and Martin Donnelly all had chances to win it for the Reds, while Ards put a heroic defensive display, but with just 25 seconds left on the clock, Cliftonville found a winner.

Ards failed to clear as the Reds launched what was surely the last attack of the match when Johnny Flynn knocked the ball down for the lethal Gormley, who somehow managed to hook the ball into the net with a flying volley inside the area.

Ards: McKibbin; Hall, Burns, Convery (Hislop 90), Shannon; Cully, Arthurs; McMillen (Dougan 78), Faulkner, Warwick (E McAllister 95); Cahoon. Subs: Barnett, D McAllister.

Cliftonville: Devlin; McMullan (Cosgrove 83), McGovern, Flynn, Scannell; Garrett (Donnelly 16), Catney, Winchester; Donnelly; McDaid (Mulvenna 98), Gormley. Subs Not Used: Johnston, Seydak

Man of the match: James Cully

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Ross Dunlop (Bangor)

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