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Lisburn Distillery's Mark Cooling celebrates scoring the winning penalty


LISBURN Distillery defeated Crusaders on penalties following a night of high drama at Ballyskeagh to reach the Co-operative Insurance Cup final for the first time in their history.

The Whites twice held an all too brief lead before eventually coming through on spot-kicks to book their early April decider against either Glentoran or Portadown.

Recent signing, 'keeper Billy Brennan, had kept Tommy Wright's side in the game after a scoreless first half which saw the Crues create the more promising opportunities.

Darren Cassidy might have fired them into an early lead with a low effort on seven minutes which Brennan did well to save before two efforts before the break from Jordan Owens and Cassidy again saw Brennan called back into action.

Owens also came close on 67 minutes with a back post header from a Chris Morrow cross.

The deadlock was finally broken on 73 minutes when Gary Liggett met a Glenn Ferguson pass to burst clear of the Crues defence to sneak the ball past 'keeper Niall Murphy.

However, they held the advantage for less than a minute when Morrow crossed again for Owens who this time made no mistake.

Michael Halliday might have blasted the visitors in front three minutes after that only to turn a header onto the crossbar.

The Whites regained the lead ten minutes into extra-time through David Cushley after he beat Murphy from close range but, again, that lead only lasted a minute when David Rainey levelled with a spectacular overhead kick.

With no further goals forthcoming penalties were required to seperate the sides.

That man Brennan proved to be the hero of the hour, saving from Chris Morrow and Stuart Dallas as the Whites led 3-2 going into the last round of kicks before Mark Cooling stepped up to fire home the winner.

Lisburn Distillery: Brennan, Devlin, Hunter, Simpson, McShane, Browne, G. Thompson, Kilmartin, Patton, Ferguson, Liggett subs Cooling (replaced G. Thompson 105), Cushley (replaced Patton 78), Davidson (not used), S. Thompson (not used), Scott (not used)

Crusaders: Murphy, McKeown, Magowan, Coates, McBride, Dallas, Caddell, Morrow, Cassidy, Owens, Halliday subs McMaster (replaced Caddell 66), Donnelly (replaced Owens 104), Rainey (replaced Halliday 83), Magee (not used), BarrEtt (not used)

Referee: Stephen Weatherall (Belfast)