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Bangor shock Crusaders to book Co Antrim Shield final spot


Bang on form: Ethan Boylan takes the congratulations of his Bangor team mates after scoring

Bang on form: Ethan Boylan takes the congratulations of his Bangor team mates after scoring

Bang on form: Ethan Boylan takes the congratulations of his Bangor team mates after scoring

Gutsy Bangor last night roared into the County Antrim Shield final after an astonishing semi-final win over Crusaders at Seaview.

Goals from Barry Walsh and Ethan Boylan earned Garth Scates' team a place in the decider on January 13.

It will be their first showcase final in 15 years - since they lost to Glentoran in Shield decider.

Incredibly, it was their second success over the Premiership side inside the last month. They also dumped Stephen Baxter's team out of the League Cup on November 11.

And make no mistake about it, they were well worth the victory.

The win presents the Seasiders the chance of lifting their first senior trophy since 1993 when they triumphed over North Down rivals Ards in the Irish Cup final.

The Crues were dealt a double blow before the game. Skipper Colin Coates failed a fitness test on an achilles injury, while Paul Heatley hurt an ankle in the warm up. Matthew Snoddy was drafted into the side, with Josh Robinson brought on to the bench - his first involvement since late October. Midfielder Declan Caddell was also missing due to suspension.

The visitors were not intimated and they were the first to threaten after only three minutes when Andrew Hall's corner kick was nodded over the crossbar by the lanky Jordan Forsythe, but they silenced the home fans nine minutes later with Walsh's opener.

William McBurney whipped in a cross from the left which found the former Killyleagh man. His first touch was excellent, his second was sublime as the ball flashed past a startled Sean O'Neill.

The Seasiders looked like a team that were not familiar with defeat. Andy Hall tried his luck with a 25-yard drive that stung the hands of O'Neill.

Almost immediately, the Crues carved out their first chance of the night with Dairmuid O'Carroll slipping in Snoddy, whose shot was deflected for a corner.

Bangor almost self-destructed on 27 minutes when Billy Joe Burns' cross was spilled by Paul Cairnduff, leaving Jordan Owens with a great chance, but the goalkeeper got down brilliantly to block his effort.

Baxter's boys began to up the tempo. Gavin Whyte burst into action on 30 minutes, coasting past McBurney before firing low across the face of the goal with O'Carroll fluffing his lines from three yards.

Whyte again bamboozled the Seasiders' defence with another dazzling solo dash only to see his low shot flash past a posse of legs and inches wide of the post.

The Seasiders were let off the hook six minutes before the break when Whyte's cross was completely missed by Cairnduff, who appeared to be carrying an injury. O'Carroll looked a certain scorer until Colin Nixon popped up to hoof the ball off the line.

Crusaders went in search of an equaliser early in the second half with Timmy Adamson heading Whyte's cross over the top. Whyte then let fly with an angled drive, that Cairnduff did well to grasp at the base of his post.

Bangor again demonstrated how dangerous they are on the break with Ethan Boylan and Hall creating a chance for Mark Cooling, whose drive fizzed inches over the bar.

They hit the killer second goal on 57 minutes. Hall's wonderfully measured cross picked out the unmarked Boylan and he sent a bullet header past O'Neill.

It could have been even worse for the Crues. O'Neill was relieved to see Andy Hall's crisp 25-yard drive deflected wide when he was rooted to the spot.

Crusaders grabbed a lifeline 13 minutes from time. Substitute Nathan Hanley drilled the ball into the area and Burns was first to react, poking his shot past Cairnduff.

Burns almost did it again three minutes from time when he met an Adamson cross, but Cairnduff managed to deflect it clear.

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Magowan, Friars, McClean, Clarke, O'Carroll, Snoddy (Hanley 72), Whyte, Adamson, Owens. Subs: Dillon, Cockcroft, O'Hanlon, Robinson.

Bangor: Cairnduff, Long, McBurney (Wray 42), Youle, Nixon, Walsh, Hall, Cooling, Morrow (Melly 83), Boylan (Gibson 71), Forsythe. Subs: Gardiner, Gibbons.

Man of the match: Barry Walsh

Match rating: 8/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)

Belfast Telegraph