League Cup semi-final: Dungannon Swifts 2-1 Crusaders (aet)

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League Cup: Dungannon Swifts 2-1 Crusaders (AET)

Dungannon Swifts booked their place in next month's League Cup final at Windsor Park by coming from a goal down to beat Crusaders 2-1 after extra-time.

Colin Coates gave the Crues the lead with a 49th-minute glancing header but Peter McMahon rifled the ball into the top corner five minutes from the end.

Ryan Harpur's penalty 13 minutes into extra-time gave Swifts the victory.

Crusaders' unbeaten run of 23 matches comes to an end and Dungannon reach their first senior final since 2007.

Rodney McAree's side will play the winners of next Tuesday's rearranged last-four game between holders Ballymena United and Cliftonville in the 17 February decider at the National Stadium.

Both semi-finals had originally been scheduled for 12 December but were postponed because of the freezing weather conditions and the ties were called off again on 16 January because of adverse weather.

For the Swifts, who had found goalscoring a problem in recent months, this will be their first appearance in a League Cup final.

Colin Coates scored Crusaders' goal four minutes into the second half
Colin Coates (left) scored Crusaders' goal four minutes into the second half

The Stangmore Park club were beaten by Linfield at the semi-final stage of the Irish Cup last season, having lost to the same opposition on penalties in the final of the same competition in May 2007.

Crusaders have already won the County Antrim Shield and remain in contention to collect the league title, the Irish Cup and the Scottish Challenge Cup, but their bid for a first League Cup success since 2012 was denied by a battling Dungannon outfit.

The visitors had the wind at their backs in a first half which saw Coates have a header scrambled off the line by Chris Hegarty and Paul Heatley hit the bar with a shot.

Kris Lowe fired an effort across the face of goal but after the break Coates headed into the top corner from Heatley's free-kick to edge Stephen Baxter's team ahead.

The hosts enjoyed the better of the remainder of the half, Cormac Burke and Ryan Mayse going close before substitute McMahon rifled home a deserved equaliser.

Stuart Addis produced a fine save to deny Billy Joe Burns but Harpur had the final say from the penalty spot, sending Sean O'Neill the wrong way after Lowe had been fouled.

Crusaders face north Belfast rivals Cliftonville at Solitude in the sixth round of the Irish Cup on Saturday while Dungannon are away to Glenavon.

What they said

Dungannon Swifts manager Rodney McAree: "Whenever you play Crusaders you know you can concede but it was important that we re-grouped, tried to stay in the game as long as we could and see what we could get out of it.

"Over the course of the 120 minutes I thought we thoroughly deserved to win - we showed great spirit, togetherness, fight and endeavour.

"We fought for everything all night and showed a positivity that has unfortunately been absent in recent months.

"Crusaders have played a lot of games in recent weeks so we played at a high tempo and hoped that they would run out of steam a little bit."