In Pictures: Jordan’s missile fires Crusaders to Shield glory
Linfield 2 Crusaders 3
Jordan Owens was Crusaders’ hero in extra-time to seal a 3-2 win which saw the Paddy Power County Antrim Shield leave for the north of the city.
The 20-year-old’s volley in the 99th minute made sure the Seaview trophy cabinet will have to be forced open once more to create space alongside the JJB Sports Irish Cup.
David Jeffrey’s trophy winning machine is still in need of some repair but this is yet another significant confidence boost for the Carling Premiership leaders.
Billy Joe Burns struck first for the Blues but former Linfield favourite Mark Dickson levelled before the break.
Jim Ervin’s confident penalty restored Linfield’s lead five minutes before the end but in the 89th minute a Colin Coates header forced added time.
Michael Carvill, who had earlier shaken the Crues’ post with a drive, was sent off in injury time after the 90 minutes for a reckless challenge on David McMaster when the winger was on the ground.
Nine minutes into the first period of extra-time Owens volleyed in the winner to give the Crues the lead for the first time and that was the blow that settled the final.
The match was switched from the Oval as the east Belfast surface was waterlogged and at the finish it was Linfield who left Windsor Park with that sinking feeling.
Without the cup-tied Thommo, Mark McAllister was given a golden opportunity to shine in attack for the Blues.
David Bell was handed only his second start at left-back for the Crues as Stephen McBride was nursing a knee knock and few fans were surprised to see Mickey Collins enter the action with a swagger after he was given the green light to play, despite turning out for Dundalk in August.
But the smile was soon removed from his face in the third minute when the Blues stormed in front. Jamie Mulgrew went on a driving run towards goal and squared the ball for Burns to powerfully drill home the opener.
The Crues defence were left floundering but it was still a stunning finish from the right winger.
The Hatchetmen rallied and Jordan Owens mistimed a header from close range before goalkeeper Stuart Addis blocked David McMaster’s fierce angled drive from eight yards.
Another Owens header from Gareth McKeown’s cross went high over the crossbar as the Crues pressed for an equaliser.
That leveller should have arrived in the 19th minute when Owens was sent racing towards Addis. The Blues number one palmed away his initial effort but instead of slotting in the rebound, Owens screwed his shot wide.
The Blues fans were unhappy at a Collins challenge on Mulgrew and their anger deepened when a penalty was not awarded after McKeown appeared to shove McAllister in the penalty area.
Five minutes before the break Crusaders got the equaliser and it was as well worked and executed as Linfield’s opener.
McMaster’s peach of a cross from the right wing picked out Dickson at the back post and he headed the ball firmly past Addis from the corner of the six yard box.
Just before the break, tempers exploded, a shoving match ensued and four yellow cards were brandished to McKeown, Owens, Michael Carvill and Michael Gault. McKeown was perhaps relieved to see the colour yellow after the right-back raised his hands towards Carvill.
After the restart Crusaders started brightly and Owens’ header from McMaster’s cross cleared the crossbar. The striker was a handful for the Blues defence and his low cross along the six yard box had Linfield fans holding their breath but a killer touch never arrived.
Crusaders were forced to make a change in the 67th minute when Keenan limped off, resulting in Aaron Hogg donning the gloves.
Burns then let fly with a long range effort that fizzed past the post and the new arrival.
Five minutes before the finish, Linfield were awarded a penalty by the assistant referee who spotted a trip on Allen by Doherty.
Jim Ervin stepped up and drilled the spot-kick high to Hogg’s left, sending the substitute keeper the wrong way.
But in the 89th minute the Crues fought back to equalise again. Coates rose highest in the box to bury a header past Addis following a long throw in from McKeown. Seconds later Linfield were down to 10 men when Carvill was shown a straight red card for appearing to stamp on McMaster.
With 20 minutes of extra-time ahead, the pendulum swung in the Crues’ favour and nine minutes into the first period the north Belfast side took the lead.
Donnelly’s cross was headed into the air by Steven Douglas but the ball fell invitingly for Owens who waited for it to drop before finding the corner of the net, the ball slamming against the post as it crossed the line.
Arthurs almost sealed Linfield’s fate but Addis parried his fierce drive. When Paul Munster’s shot sailed high over the bar from close range, it was time for the Crues to celebrate a memorable fightback.
LINFIELD: Addis, Douglas, Gault, Curran (Tomelty 101), Carvill, Burns (Garrett 95), Lindsay, Ervin, Mulgrew, Munster, McAllister (Allen 78). Subs not used: Murphy, Bailie.
CRUSADERS: Keenan (Hogg 67), Bell (Arthurs 88), Coates, Magowan, McKeown, Donnelly, Collins (Caddell 109), Doherty, McMaster, Owens, Dickson. Subs not used: Magee, Faulkner.
Referee: Trevor Moutray (Newtownabbey).