Ballymena United end Linfield’s Cup hopes

Linfield's Mark McAllister and Ballymena United's Jim Ervin
Linfield's Mark McAllister and Ballymena United's Jim Ervin
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A sublime finish from David Cushley helped Ballymena United claim a heroic 2-1 Irish Cup victory over Linfield at Windsor Park.

Cushley booked the Sky Blues’ place in the quarter-finals with a clinical winning goal in the 66th minute.

Allan Jenkins gave Ballymena the lead with a bullet header in the 26th minute, with Philip Lowry equalising for the Blues before the break.

Cushley would be the Sky Blues hero with a classy finish, the winger caressing Darren Boyce’s cross into the bottom corner of the net.

Linfield dominated the opening 25 minutes but couldn’t convert their pressure into an opening goal.

Philip Lowry headed over in the fifth minute while United goalkeeper Aaron Shanahan saved easily from Mark Haughey’s header in the 23rd minute.

The home side were made to pay three minutes later with Jenkins breaking the deadlock.

It came after Jonathan Tuffey initially denied Darren Boyce on the line, and from the resulting corner David Cushley picked out Jenkins who dispatched a bullet header into the bottom corner.

Linfield were level in the 36th minute with a clinical finish from Lowry.

Mark McAllister was the provider, the striker delivering a low cross from the left that Lowry touched home from five yards.

Ballymena reclaimed the lead in the 66th minute with a superb finish from Cushley.

Gary Thompson won possession in midfield before feeding Boyce on the right, and the ball was crossed into the middle there was Cushley to dispatch a first-time shot past Tuffey.

Boyce could have made it 3-1 when he was sent through on goal four minutes later, but Tuffey did enough to block the striker’s shot.

Linfield almost snatched an equaliser two minutes from time, but substitute Ivan Sproule’s low drive cannoned off the outside of the post.

LINFIELD: Tuffey, Gault, Haughey, Waterworth, Lowry, Carvill (Clarke 87), BJ Burns (Sproule 72), Ward, Mulgrew, McAllister (Tipton 72), Quinn.

Subs not used: McVey, Glendinning.

BALLYMENA: Shanahan, McBride (Ruddy 78), Stewart, Thompson, Boyce, Jenkins, Cushley (McLellan 84), Surgenor (Kane 61), Munster, McCullagh, Ervin.

Subs not used: Teggart, Davidson.

Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)