LEAGUE CUP ROUND-UP: Kane’s late show sends holders Ballymena United marching on

Celebration time for Ballymena United in the Bet McLean League Cup quarter-finals against Ards. Pic by Pacemaker.
Celebration time for Ballymena United in the Bet McLean League Cup quarter-finals against Ards. Pic by Pacemaker.

Holders Ballymena United marched into the Bet McLean League Cup semi-final stages with a dramatic extra-time success over Ards.

Tony Kane fired a spectacular shot into the top corner on 118 minutes to hand United control in a tie which saw Ards battled back from 2-0 down.

United will be joined in the last-four draw by Crusaders, Cliftonville and Dungannon Swifts following a night of knockout drama.

Cathair Friel kicked off the scoring at The Showgrounds by converting to cap Johnny McMurray’s hard work in winning back possession and finding his forward team-mate.

Ballymena’s night improved on 49 minutes courtesy of Gary Thompson’s finish at the second time of asking following a corner-kick delivery from Leroy Millar which Emmet Friars headed goalwards before the finishing touch.

However, battling Ards regrouped and Michael Ruddy came out celebrating at the end of a scramble inside the area to close the deficit.

Ards left it level with a second goal inside five frantic second-half minutes off Johnny Taylor’s header from an unmarked position.

Kane, who cleared one Ards effort off the line in normal time, made his mark in style to send United marching on.

Rory Donnelly was on hand to help Cliftonville see off determined Carrick Rangers thanks to an assured strike off Chris Curran’s first-half cutback.

Carrick came close to an equaliser but Mark Surgenor’s snapshot was tipped on to the crossbar by Cliftonville goalkeeper Brian Neeson.

The meeting between top-flight Dungannon Swifts and high-flying Bluefin Sport Championship outfit Ballyclare Comrades featured plenty of last-gasp action.

A division may divide the sides but it was stalemate at Stangmore Park until 87 minutes as Comrades claimed control off Adam McCart’s effort.

However, the Swifts produced a thrilling finale as Johnny Lafferty made it 1-1 off a glancing header. Summer signing Ryan Mayse grabbed an injury-time goal courtesy of a shot which found a way home via a deflection.