County Antrim Shield: Ballymena and Crusaders win semi-finals

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Crusaders and Ballymena win Shield semi-finals

Ballymena United beat Ards and Crusaders saw off Carrick Rangers in Tuesday's semi-finals of the County Antrim Shield.

Steven McCullough, Conor McCloskey and Cathair Friel scored as David Jeffrey's Sky Blues ran out comfortable 3-0 winners over Ards.

At Seaview, striker Jordan Owens got the only goal as Crusaders beat Carrick who had Mark Clarke sent off.

Ballymena and Crusaders are scheduled to meet in the final on 23 January.

Ballymena appear to be getting accustomed to reaching finals
Ballymena appear to be getting accustomed to reaching finals

Ballymena, who lifted the Shield two seasons ago, got an early breakthrough at the Showgrounds when McCullough beat Carrick keeper Sam Johnston with a curling free-kick.

McCloskey then rounded off a superb Ballymena attacking move to make it 2-0 after just 13 minutes.

Tony Kane saw a penalty saved by Johnston but Friel did make it 3-0 near the end for the Braidmen.

"It was not as easy as the scoreline suggests," said Ballymena boss David Jeffrey.

"We took our chances when we were on top and, when Ards were in the ascendancy, we defended very well."

A far-post header by Owens proved enough for the Crues in the other semi-final.

Paul Heatley clipped a left-foot cross for the Shore Road side's all-time top scorer to net unmarked.

Clarke's 77th-minute dismissal was for a second yellow card.

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