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Chris Morrow celebrates scoring his first of the evening (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)

MORROW DOUBLE BOOKS SEMI-FINAL BERTH

CRUSADERS strolled past an out of sorts Ballymena United at The Showgrounds to book their place in Co-operative Insurance Cup semi-finals.

It only took the visitors ten minutes to open the scoring after Stuart Dallas flicked a header into the area for Chris Morrow to run onto and nod past 'keeper Dwayne Nelson.

Morrow might have doubled their lead on 17 minutes only to fire over from 25 yards while, a couple of minutes after that, Dallas did have the ball in the net only for the 'goal' to be ruled out offside.

The Crues came close again just after the half-hour mark when Jordan Owens dispossessed Nelson on the far side of the area but couldn't direct the ball into the empty net.

United almost levelled on 38 minutes when Andy Smith attempted to catch Niall Murphy out from 40-yards but despite vociferous claims from the home camp referee Stephen Weatherall ruled that the ball didn't cross the line.

Still chasing the game the Sky Blues showed plenty of promise but were unable to turn their endeavour into that all important equaliser.

And they were duly punished with a quarter-of-an-hour remaining when an Owens goal was ruled out after the referee had spotted what appeared to be pushing by a United defender and instead ordered a spot-kick which Morrow duly comfortably converted.

Crusaders meet Lisburn Distillery in the semi-finals on Tuesday, 1st February at New Grosvenor Stadium, with the winners facing either Glentoran or Portadown in the early April decider.

Ballymena United: Nelson, M. Smith, Haveron, Watson, Stewart, A. Smith, McCutcheon, Gage, Surgenor, Murray, Hanley subs Brown (not used), Colligan (not used), Berry (replaced Haveron 84), Gibson (replaced Surgenor 50), McCaughern (replaced Hanley 84)

Crusaders: Murphy, McBride, Magowan, Dallas, Morrow, Caddell, Arthurs, Gibson, Magee, J. Owens, McMaster subs Halliday (replaced McMaster 87), Rainey (replaced Arthurs 76), Montgomery, K. Owens (not used), Keenan (not used)

Referee:
Stephen Weatherall (Belfast)