Reds and Crues face tough County Antrim Shield semi-finals

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Tommy Breslin

North Belfast rivals Cliftonville and Crusaders face testing County Antrim Shield semi-finals against north Down sides Ards and Bangor on Tuesday night.

The Reds plan to take a step towards securing the first trophy of the season when they face Niall Currie's Championship One side at Clandeboye.

The Crues take on the Seasiders, who are unbeaten at the top of Championship One, in the other tie at Seaview.

Bangor beat Crusaders 4-2 in last month's League Cup quarter-finals.

"We know we are in for a tough match - that result means there is no chance of any complacency on our part going into this game," confirmed Crues assistant boss Jeff Spiers on behalf of last season's beaten finalists.

Garth Scates's outfit will face Cliftonville in the last four of the League Cup on 16 December, but will first set their sights on clinching a place in the first senior final of the season on 13 January.

Bangor have plenty of players with top-flight experience in their ranks, including ex-Glentoran defender Colin Nixon, Andy Morrow and former Lisburn Distillery quartet Andy Hall, Mark Cooling, Dean Youle and Jordan Forsythe.

They accounted for Glentoran at the quarter-final stage of the Shield.

Ards lie third in the league, nine points behind their rivals with a game in hand, and will hope to bounce back from the disappointment of losing to Carrick Rangers in a Steel and Sons Cup semi-final on Friday night.

"I watched that game and Ards were actually very impressive - but for a number of missed chances and some decisions which went against them, the result could have been different," said Cliftonville manager Tommy Breslin.

"We won't be underestimating them and it's an opportunity to reach another final and win another medal - that's what players should be striving for.

"We'll give them the respect they are due but we're at a stage of the competition where we'll be fielding a strong team."

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