Irish Cup semi-final: Spot-on Crues beat holders Coleraine

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Penalty calls decide Irish Cup semi-final as Crusaders beat holders Coleraine 2-0.

Two second-half penalties gave Crusaders a 2-0 victory over the Bannsiders in a controversial Irish Cup semi-final at the Oval.

David Cushley slotted home the opener before a major talking point after referee Tim Marshall awarded Coleraine a penalty for a foul on Ben Doherty.

After consulting his assistant he decided the foul took place outside the box and awarded a free-kick instead.

Jordan Owens added the second to set up a decider against Ballinamallard.

It was a dramatic semi-final but far from being a classic and a scrappy first half of few chances was particularly disappointing.

Owens scored a late penalty but he was guilty of squandering openings in both halves at the Oval.

Man-of-the-match Colin Coates gets to grips with Bannsiders striker Eoin Bradley
Man-of-the-match Colin Coates gets to grips with Bannsiders striker Eoin Bradley

The big striker miscontrolled in the early minutes when a good touch would have sent him clear and then when he managed to go through his weak shot was easily saved by Chris Johns.

However, the best chance of the first half fell to the holders with Stephen O'Donnell failing to get a good connection on Doherty's corner and heading wide from close range.

It remained a close, tense encounter on the restart and the teams were finally separated by a 55th-minute penalty.

Aaron Canning brought down Paul Heatley, who returned for the Crues after a long lay-off, and Cushley calmly slotted into the bottom corner.

David Cushley takes to the air to celebrate his goal against Coleraine
David Cushley takes to the air to celebrate his goal against Coleraine

Then came the controversial incident as Doherty tumbled under a tackle from Sean Ward.

The referee immediately pointed to the spot but soon moved to the touchline to consult with his assistant.

The decision was overturned - the assistant believed the infringement took place outside the penalty area and a free-kick was awarded.

Owens then missed out again after twice going clear, with the striker denied by a last-ditch Adam Mullan tackle before chipping over with just Johns to beat.

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Rodney McAree says Coleraine were denied a clear penalty against Crusaders.

He made amends with a spot-kick four minutes from time, converting after he was fouled in an off-the-ball incident with Gareth McConaghie.

Bannsiders substitute James McLaughlin saw his header cleared off the line by Sean Ward in added time as Coleraine's defence of the trophy came to an end.

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