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BetMcLean Cup

IT'S A BLUES v BANNSIDERS FINAL!

06 Dec 2022
football
© Stephen Hamilton/INPHO Coleraine players celebrate their win over Cliftonville

Coleraine and Linfield will contest the BetMcLean Cup final next March following an enthralling night of semi-final action.

The Bannsiders exacted revenge upon outgoing holders Cliftonville following a penalty shoot-out at Solitude while, across the city, Linfield went to the home of great rivals Glentoran to ease to a three-goal victory.

In the end it was a fairly straightforward victory for the Blues.

Sam Roscoe opened the scoring on 19 minutes with a header from Matthew Clarke's corner, before Eetu Vertainen added a second just after the half-hour mark with a superb solo effort which saw him single handedly beat the Glentoran defence.

Then, with around a quarter-of-an-hour remaining, Cameron Palmer put the issue beyond doubt with a stooping header.

The real drama was reserved for Solitude, however, in a repeat of last year's unforgettable decider which this time saw Coleraine twice come from behind to come out on top.

The Reds moved in front after 15 minutes when Ronan Hale made the most of a defensive error to nip in front of Kieran Farren and slot the ball past Gareth Deane.

It was a lead they held until the 83rd minute when Matthew Shevlin met a Conor McDermott cross to force extra time from close range.

Cliftonville regained the advantage on 92 minutes, however, thanks to Odhran Casey who volleyed past Gareth Deane after a Jonny Addis effort was blocked.

Remarkably Coleraine levelled once again in first half stoppage time with Shevlin's second of the evening, this time a header from Lee Lynch's cross.

However, with nothing between the sides at the final whistle that meant the tie would need to be settled on penalties.

Coleraine were up first but Lyndon Kane saw his effort - taken at the second attempt - saved by Gartside, while Ronan Hale responded by sending his spot-kick over.

Carson, Shevlin, McLaughlin and Michael McCrudden all successfully stroked their efforts home while Chris Gallagher, Levi Ives, Colin Coates and Joe Gormley responded in kind for Cliftonville.

That left sudden death - and up stepped Dean Jarvis to make it 5-4 to Coleraine, but the unfortunate Casey could only send his spot-kick over thus ending Cliftonville's grip on the trophy and sending the Bannsiders through to a third successive final!

They will meet Linfield at Windsor Park on Sunday 12th March 2023 in what promises to be an occasion not to be missed.