Harland & Wolff Welders reached their second Toals Bookmakers Steel & Sons Cup final in as many years, with a quietly impressive victory over Crusaders Reserves at Seaview.
First half goals from Josh Cahoon and Michael McLellan, either side of a Salou Jallow equaliser, booked the Welders return to Seaview for the showpiece final on Christmas morning.
Gary Smyth’s men can now look forward to facing Albert Foundry in the final. Last year, the Championship One side lost 4-1 to Carrick Rangers in the final.
The Welders almost had the lead in the second minute when Michael McLellan fired off a shot from an acute angle, but Graeme McKibbin pushed the ball past.
From the resulting corner, Josh Cahoon found some room in the middle of a crowded penalty area to head the ball in at the near post for 1-0.
The equaliser arrived in the 24th minute after a horrible mix-up between Scott McMillan and Dougherty. McMillan’s short back-pass forced the experienced goalkeeper to come rushing off his line. His clearance was charged by Jallow, before the young forward knocked the ball into the unguarded net.
The Welders had the lead again in the 32nd minute. William Armstrong fed the ball into the path of Chris Middleton, and the former Bangor man played a lovely ball across the front goal. Michael McLellan then had the simple task of knocking the ball into the net from inside the six-yard box.
The Welders dominated the majority of the second half, creating a handful of chances. Ryan Deans, Scott Davidson, Michael McLellan and Scott McMillen all had half chances to better their advantage.
In the closing stages, Crusaders Reserves twice claimed for handballs inside the box, but referee Chris Morrison was unmoved.
Crusaders Reserves: McKibbin; Kerr, Wilson (85 Gardiner), Stewart, Vauls; Holden, Anderson (79 O’Neill), Morrow, Jallow; Peoples (54 McPartland), O’Flynn
Subs Not Used: McKinty, Spiers
Harland & Wolff Welders: Dougherty; Devine, McMillan, McMurray, Armstrong; Middleton, Deans, Harris, Davidson; Cahoon, McLellan (83 Dougan)
Subs Not Used: Galbraith, Bowers, Spence, Rainey.