Amateurs Immaculata saw their Steel & Sons Cup dreams crushed by Niall Currie’s Ards in extra-time, in an enthralling Steel & Sons Cup semi-final on Monday night.
Brave Immaculata from division 1B showed no fear against Championship One leaders Ards in a semi-final that could have gone either way.
The game finished 1-1 after 90 minutes, but Ards substitutes Kyle McDowell and Stephen Doyle scored the crucial goals in extra time to confirm their place in the Christmas morning final against Spike Hill’s Glentoran seconds.
Immaculata started brightly, moving the ball around on the Seaview surface with ease, while Ards struggled to gain any footing in midfield.
For all Immaculata’s early play it was the Championship One team who created the chances.
Ards caught Immaculata out in the 22nd minute when Ryan Moffatt split their defence open with a sensational through-ball that put Ross Arthurs in on goal and he calmly rolled the ball past Smith to give Ards the lead.
As the half progressed Immaculata grew in confidence, and their 42nd minute equaliser duly arrived.
Their counter-attack three minutes from time split Ards apart with Dargan and Heagney combining well. The ball eventually fell to Boyce on the penalty spot, who was tackled by Spence – but Spence’s block lifted the ball into the air and over a stranded McKibbin.
Ards almost grabbed the winner in the 71st minute when Dougan cut inside and delivered superb cross, which Arthurs headed over from six yards.
The final chance of a frantic 90 minutes arrived in injury-time when Ards substitute Stephen Doyle sent the ball crashing off the underside of the bar.
Ards dominated extra-time and the much craved goal arrived just two minutes into extra-time when Immaculata failed to clear a goalmouth scramble – Smith blocked Arthurs’ drive, but he could only watch as Kyle McDowell fired home from inside the box.
Immaculata midfielder Tony Heagney received his second yellow card in the 95th minute after a scuffle with Ards man James Cully.
Stephen Doyle insured victory in the 98th minute when he rifled home a Kyle McDowell cutback.
Ards: McKibbin, Hall, Spence, Nixon, Pike, McMillen (66 K.McDowell, J.Cully, Smith (55 Browne), Moffatt (84 Doyle), Arthurs, Dougan. Subs Not Used : D.Cully, Dickson
Immaculata: Smith, Largey (76 C.Rowntree), G.Rowntree, McGovern, Dargan, Heagney, O’Riordan, Nelson (80 Montgomery), Hughes, Boyce, Lawlor (62 Adams). Subs Not Used : Adams, C.Rowntree, Montgomery
Referee: Stephen Gregg (Ballyclare)