LEAGUE CUP: Ballymena see off rivals Coleraine to book Cup Final spot
Ballymena United secured their place in the League Cup final with a three-goal blitz of their derby rivals Coleraine in extra time.
Tony Kane fired the Sky Blues in front from the spot on 96 minutes before further strikes from Cathair Friel and Darren Henderson sealed their spot against Carrick Rangers in February’s final.
It completed a miserable night for Bannsiders boss Oran Kearney, who was sent to the stands for remonstrating with the officials after he felt his side were wrongly denied a penalty of their own.
Neil McCafferty’s slack pass on 15 minutes was latched upon by Friel, his cross-cum-shot though was easily smothered by Chris Johns.
Johns was called into action again on 23 minutes after a break away from a Coleraine corner, Friel fed Willie Faulkner, but there was no pace in his shot.
Coleraine spurned a great chance on 27 minutes as Davy Kee’s free kick found the unmarked David Ogilby at the back post, he failed to hit the target though as he snatched at the shot.
Kane took advantage of a poor pass by Kee four minutes before half time as he tried his luck from distance forcing Johns into a full length save to parry away the shot.
The Bannsiders had a huge let off just before the break when a long throw from Kane caused confusion in their box, the ball fell for Allan Jenkins right in front of goal but he somehow shot wide of the target.
Some nice one-touch passing saw Friel tee up his strike partner McMurray a minute after the restart, Johns did well to grasp hit low shot at the near post.
McMurray was lucky to escape a second yellow on the hour mark after a late challenge on Lyndon Kane. He had picked up an early caution following a coming together with Steven Douglas.
The visitors almost made the breakthrough on 78 minutes as Brown’s deflected effort hit the woodwork with Glendinninig beaten.
The keeper had to be alert in the 90th minute to gather McLaughlin’s shot from outside the box.
Extra time burst into life in the 96th minute when Douglas was adjudged to have brought down Friel just inside the box. Up stepped Kane who fired in from 12 yards.
They doubled their lead just before the break in extra time when Friel slid the ball home from close range from Millar’s cross.
The Sky Blues rubbed more salt into the wounds on 113 minutes as Henderson finished off a great sweeping move to make it 3-0.
Ballymena United: Glendinning, Kane, Owens, Jenkins, Faulkner, Friel, Ervin, Millar, McMurray (Henderson 115), McCaffrey (Taggart 102), McCracken.
Subs: Blayney, Wallace, Loughran.
Coleraine: Johns, Kane, Douglas, Ogilby, McCauley, McCafferty, McLaughlin, Brown, Kee (Allan 80), Lyons, McGonigle (Parkhill 116).
Subs: Mullan, McConaghie, Doherty.
Referee: Evan Boyce.