League Cup: Red-card controversy as Crues beat Blues to make semi-finals
Crusaders defeated Linfield 2-0 in the League Cup quarter-final with the hosts helped by the controversial 70th-minute dismissal of Mark Stafford.
Paul Heatley fired in the opener and Gavin Whyte netted in added time.
David Cushley was sent-off after a tackle with Stafford, but seconds later the red card was rescinded and the Blues defender was dismissed instead.
Cliftonville beat Carrick 1-0, Ballyclare lost 2-1 at Dungannon and Ballymena overcame Ards 3-2.
It required extra-time to separate the Sky Blues and Ards with Tony Kane's stunning winner giving the holders victory at the Showgrounds.
Cathair Friel slotted home and Gary Thompson made it 2-0 to United before Ards fought back to level.
Michael Ruddy pulled one back with a close-range finish and Johnny Taylor headed in the equaliser but Kane had the final say by rifling into the top corner.
Rory Donnelly secured a semi-final spot for the Reds with the striker hitting the bottom corner from Chris Curran's cut-back on 31 minutes.
The hosts almost levelled late in the game when Mark Surgenor's snap-shot was tipped onto the bar by former Rangers keeper Brian Neeson.
There was late drama at Stangmore Park as the Swifts came from behind to defeat their Championship opposition.
Adam McCart scrambled in to the give the Comrades an 87th-minute lead but Johnny Lafferty quickly levelled with a glancing header.
The winner came two minutes into added time with Ryan Mayse bursting through and his deflected shot flew past keeper Paddy Flood.
Crusaders made it three wins from three meetings with Linfield this season but this was a close affair as the Blues went down to a sixth defeat in eight games.
Andrew Waterworth headed just wide with the first chance for the visitors and both sides created openings before Heatley struck on 37 minutes.
Jordan Owens delivered the pinpoint cross and keeper Roy Carroll was unable to keep out winger's shot as the ball trickled over the line.
Linfield bossed possession early in the second half but the Crues were more dangerous on counter-attack and Jordan Forsythe saw his 20-yard volley crash off the crossbar.
Cushley and Stafford were both fully committed to winning the loose ball as they came together at speed.
Referee Raymond Hetherington initially brandished a straight red card to Crues substitute Cushley.
However, after consulting the assistant referee he reversed his decision, allowing Cushley to stay on but showing a red card to Stafford.
It was a bizarre moment but the 10-man Blues pushed for a leveller and Waterworth blasted into the side-netting.
Carroll went up for a corner in the final seconds but he was left stranded as Heatley sprinted upfield before setting up Whyte to slid into an unguarded net.
|Bet McLean League Cup quarter-finals|
|Ballymena Utd||3-2 AET||Ards|
|Dungannon Swifts||2-1||Ballyclare Comrades|