Crusaders tonight are out of the Co.Antrim Shield at the Quarter Final stage when Ballymena United beat them 3-2 on penalty kicks after the game ended 1-1 after extra time.
Both sides sized each other up at the start but Ballymena United drew first blood when McGinty scored with a long range shot that flew by O'Neill giving him no chance. The game went back and forward between the two sides without anyone taking control until David Cushley picked up a ball turned and curled an absolute smasher into the top corner of the net and it was 1-1 on 32 minutes. Cushley nearly put Crusaders ahead minutes with a crack at goal from the half way line that was just about saved while O'Neill made a good save to keep it 1-1 at half time.
The second half saw Ballymena United come out stronly and they pushed Crusaders back but the defence stood strong and they got through it. Crusaders finally got on the front foot and had chances themselves to take the lead but couldn't get that important shot away. Cathair Friel missed a great chance to put United ahead when he missed a header in front of goal. Crusaders rallied again and could have finished the game but the United defence stood up this time and the game went to extra time.
Ross Clarke replaced Jamie McGonigle and he made a difference nearly scoring when a cheeky free kick was tipped on to the bar by Williamson while Caddell and Cushley also nearly scored. United then had several close calls to get the winner but O'Neill or bad finishing got in the way. Ryan Mayse was guilty of the biggest miss when he totally missed the ball in front of goal and the game ended in stalemate at 1-1.
Penalties then followed....
Ryan Harpur (Utd) 1-0
David Cushley (Crusaders) 1-1
Leroy Millar (Utd) 2-1
Kyle Owens (Crusaders) MISSED 2-1
Ryan Mayse (Utd) 3-1
Rory Hale (Crusaders) MISSED 3-1
Stephen McCullough (Utd) MISSED 3-1
Michael Ruddy (Crusaders) 3-2
Cathair Friel (Utd) MISSED 3-2
Ross Clarke (Crusaders) MISSED 3-2
Ballymena United win 3-2 on penalty kicks.
So the grip on the Shield has been lost and we hand back the trophy after having at Seaview for nearly three years. With no time to dwell we now look to Saturday and the visit of Coleraine in the Danske Bank Premiership.