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Linfield and David Jeffrey celebrate their double success (Picture: Darren Kidd/PressEye.com)

DOUBLE DELIGHT FOR LINFIELD - BUT HEARTBREAK FOR THE CRUES

NEVER EVER write Linfield off - that's the clear message in this, their 125th year, after two late goals saw them come from behind to defeat Crusaders 2-1 in the JJB Sports Irish Cup final.

The Blues, who had already clinched the league title two weeks ago, secured yet another double thanks to second half goals from Peter Thompson and Mark McAllister, the winner coming with just two minutes of normal time remaining.

Thompson had levelled for David Jeffrey's side ten minutes earlier after Declan Caddell had spectacularly handed the Crues a deserved lead just nine minutes into the second half.

But, just as with the league race, Crusaders ended up playing the role of bridesmaid.

The first half was a scoreless, somewhat uneventful affair which began quietly with a number of half chances being the sum total of what was created.

Indeed, it was only towards the break that things did liven up a little with McAllister forcing Chris Keenan to push an effort over the bar on 41 minutes followed swiftly at the other end by a Caddell drive straight at Alan Blayney from a Stuart Dallas free-kick.

The second half, by contrast, was a thoroughly action packed affair.

Jordan Owens might have edged the Crues in front on 53 minutes after he made the most of a Chris Casement error to test Blayney only for the former Northern Ireland shot-stopper to save well with his legs.

However, just a minute later, Caddell broke the deadlock with a superb left-foot volley from the edge of the area into the top corner. A wonderful finish and a goal that would have been worthy of the winner.

Linfield did have the ball in the net a quarter-of-an-hour later but Casement's goal was ruled out after he was adjudged to have fouled Keenan.

By this stage the momentum was with the Blues - aided by substitute and eventual man of the match Jamie Mulgrew - so it was no surprise when they did level eight minutes later through that man Thompson.

He became the first player to find the net in four post-war cup finals when he reacted first to turn a shot beyond Keenan after the ball fell from a Robert Garrett effort.

Then, with the prospect of extra-time looming large, McAllister popped up to grab the winner after Keenan parried a Mulgrew drive into his path.

Crusaders: Keenan, McKeown, McBride, Magowan, Coates, Dallas, Halliday, Morrow, Caddell, Owens, Watson subs McCann (not used), Rainey (replaced Halliday 80), Donnelly (not used), Magee (not used), McMaster (replaced Morrow 86)

Linfield: Blayney, Ervin, Douglas, Casement, Curran, Lowry, Gault, Garrett, Carvill, McAllister subs Bailie (not used), B.J. Burns (not used), Tomelty (not used), Mulgrew (replaced Lowry 63), Munster (not used)

Referee: Mark Courtney (Cookstown)

Tags:  Crusaders  Linfield