TEN-MAN Crusaders booked their place the semi finals of the County Antrim Shield – with a generous dollop of help from Bangor at wind-swept Seaview on Tuesday.
The Seasiders pressed the self destruct button late in the first half, with defensive pair Brian Hylands and Johnathan Watterson unwittingly blasting the ball into their own net.
Even though Thomas Lambe reduced the deficit with 18 minutes remaining the Crues, with David Magowan red carded, held on.
The little defender had only been on the pitch 90 seconds after replacing Aidan Watson.
Crues boss Stephen Baxter made wholesale changes after his team’s shock league defeat at Dungannon on Saturday, axing a number of his big-name players.
They put the Championship 1 team under the cosh right from the off, with the usually lethal David Rainey miscuing with a header from a Stephen McBride cross in the first minute.
Dangerous Paul Heatley then tried his luck from 20 yards, but goalkeeper Andrew Dickey made an impressive response.
Big Jordan Owens missed a sitter on 36 minutes, failing to get a connection to a Gareth McKeown’s cross, with the ball flashing inches past.
But the Crues enjoyed their first their first slice of luck four minutes before the interval. McBride’s free kick was met by the towering Owens. His header crashed off the crossbar and ricocheted off the unfortunate Hylands and over the line.
Bangor had appeals for a penalty kick turned away by Hugh Carvill when Watterson’s header, from a Gareth Scates corner, appeared to strike the arm of Josh Robinson. The Belfast whistler wasn’t impressed.
Watterson was then involved at the other end seconds before the break when Heatley’s speculative shot looked to be drifting wide until it clipped the heel of the defender and the ball trickled over the line.
The Crues should have killed off the visitors only seconds into the second half with Rainey shamefully volleying over from 12 yards.
Then the impressive Matthew Snoddy crossed for Owens, who somehow headed wide of the gaping goal.
It was all one way traffic with the Seasiders in danger of being totally over-run. Rainey squandered yet another sitter on 59 minutes, screwing Heatley’s pin-point cross wide with only Dickey to beat.
The Crues were punished for the failings in front of goal when Lambe met a Ryan McLaughlin corner kick and his header arrowed into the top corner.
Magowan was then dismissed following a late lunge on Chris Shimmon, leaving the Crues to sweat out the final 18 minutes.
McLaughlin should really have levelled seconds later when he failed to touch home a Shimmon cross from practically on the line.
Crusaders: Drummond, McKeown, McBride, Gibson, Robinson, Caddell (O’Hanlon 61), Watson (Magowan 70), Snoddy, Owens, Rainey, Heatley.
Subs: McClean, Adamson, Mitchell.
Bangor: Dickey, Long, Watterson (Justin 56), Youle, Hylands, Scates (Mann 56), Middleton (McLaughlin 56), Wright, Morrow, Shimmon, Lambe.
Subs: Cahill, O’Kane.
Referee: H Carvill (Belfast).