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Linfield in free fall: Tuffey's blunder helps holders blow it as Crues savour another taste of Windsor joy

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Double delight: Declan Caddell fires home one of his two goals at Windsor ParkSORRY

Double delight: Declan Caddell fires home one of his two goals at Windsor ParkSORRY

©William Cherry / Presseye

Double delight: Declan Caddell fires home one of his two goals at Windsor ParkSORRY

Declan Caddell's glorious second-half double last night sent holders Linfield crashing out of the County Antrim Shield at Windsor Park.

Stephen Baxter's Crusaders dished out another helping of punishment on the beleaguered Blues following their league win at the same venue on Saturday.

It looked so good for Warren Feeney's team when Sammy Morrow and Andy Waterworth fired them into a two-goal lead.

But a moment of madness from goalkeeper Johnny Tuffey gifted the Crues a lifeline before the break which was accepted by Jordan Owens. Caddell then took centre stage before Gavin Whyte wrapped it up right at the finish.

Not surprisingly both managers took the opportunity of reshuffling their respective squads. Feeney drafted in Jimmy Callacher, Kirk Millar, Morrow, Jamie Mulgrew and Seanan Clucas.

Baxter handed starting slots to Nathan Hanley, Caddell, who missed out at the weekend due to suspension, Gary McCutcheon, Matthew Snoddy and Richard Clarke.

The Blues got off to a flying start with that Morrow effort. But it will give Crusaders skipper Colin Coates a few nightmares. The big 28-year-old, who made his 400th appearance for the club on Saturday, completely missed the flight of Mulgrew's through ball, leaving Waterworth in the clear.

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He cleverly danced around Josh Robinson before cutting the ball back for Morrow to apply the finishing touch.

Crusaders attempted to repair the damage with Whyte threading a delicious pass into the path of Snoddy, whose poor touch in front of goal allowed Callacher to mop up.

Baxter's boys had a real let off on 13 minutes. Robinson attempted to find his goalkeeper Sean O'Neill with a back header, which fell woefully short, leaving Waterworth with a great opportunity.

O'Neill managed to spare his defender's blushes by getting a hand to the striker's lofted shot.

It was then Linfield's turn to be let off the hook on 21 minutes. Robinson's free-kick was completely missed by Tuffey with the ball rebounding off the head of Mark Haughey before creeping inches past the post.

O'Neill was forced into action again minutes later when Millar cut in from the left to try his luck from distance and his drive stung the hands of the alert shot-stopper.

But he had no chance for Linfield's second goal on 26 minutes. The impressive Ross Clarke's trickery on the right created the opening and Waterworth supplied the finishing touch with a flick of his head. It was his sixth goal of the season.

The Crues almost got back into it through the industrious Snoddy, who picked up a pass from McCutcheon before finding Whyte, whose wonderful volley fizzed inches wide.

And Whyte again went close after motoring on to another McCutcheon assist, but this time his first-time effort flew into the hands of Tuffey.

The exciting Clarke should really have killed it off on 34 minutes. His dazzling solo dash left a posse of defenders trailing in his wake and, with only O'Neill to beat, the winger pulled his shot wide.

Crusaders were thrown a lifeline by Tuffey two minutes before the interval.

If Coates' mistake was bad, Tuffey's howler could well take pride of place in the football bloopers DVD.

The former Northern Ireland keeper left his line to deal with a harmless McCutcheon punt forward, but completely fluffed his lines, leaving a surprised Owens with the easiest of chances - and he didn't disappoint.

Linfield roared from the blocks at the start of the second half. Clarke took off on another mazy right-wing dash before slinging the ball to the back post, where Millar's drive was somehow blocked by Robinson.

The pace was relentless. Whyte sent Billy Joe Burns hurtling into the box with a peach of a pass at the other end and, after turning and twisting, his finish lacked conviction and was eventually hoofed clear by Callacher.

Owens then sent Whyte racing through the middle and, after holding off a challenge from Niall Quinn, he blazed his shot high and wide.

Crusaders were right out of luck again on 59 minutes. McCutcheon's cross was met by substitute Timmy Adamson, whose header was blocked before Whyte fired the rebound against came back off the legs of Callacher.

They eventually breached the brittle Blues defence on 70 minutes.

Inevitably it was Whyte who supplied the cross, which was flicked on by Snoddy and Caddell showed a cool head to plant the ball beyond Tuffey.

The Crues then forged in front for the first time five minutes later. That man Caddell climbed high above everyone else in the six-yard box to power home another wonderful Whyte cross.

Whyte then got the goal he deserved two minutes from time when he rounded off a Paul Heatley cross.


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