Aaron Haire (11)
Aaron Haire (41)
Stephen Hughes (44)


Marcio Soares (09)
Mark Carson (OG) (45)
Paul Heatley (86)
Michael Carvill (88)


Michael Carvill heads home the winner for Crusaders (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)


Crusaders booked their place in the Northern Ireland League Cup with a storming finish to this Shamrock Park thriller.

The Crues needed just nine minutes to seize the advantage when, following outstanding work down the right flank from Ross Holden, he cut into the box before laying the ball off for Marcio Soares to finish.

Aaron Haire levelled for the Ports almost immediately after stretching to divert an Eoin Kirwan through ball beyond Michael Dougherty.

That was how it stayed until the 40th minute when Haire doubled his tally for the evening with a tailored finish from another Kirwan assist.

Then, a couple of minutes from the break, Stephen Hughes made it 3-1 after a Zak Wilson free-kick had been flicked on by Haire.

But, moments after that, the Crues were thrown a lifeline when Ports defender Mark Carson turned the ball into his own net whilst attemptng to clear a Michael Carvill cross.

And they almost equalised eight minutes into the second half after Soares played Paul Heatley in but despite fending off Robert Garrett he could only fire across the face of goal and wide.

However, the Crues never know when they're beaten and they demonstated that with two late goals to win the tie.

First, on 85 minutes, Heatley swivelled to smash the ball home into the bottom corner before, a couple of minutes after that, Carvill capitalised after a Jordan Owens header had been misread by 'keeper Chris McGaughey.

Portadown: McGaughey, Carson, Rodgers, Breen, Oman, Garrett, Wilson, Kirwan, Hughes, Haire, Simpson subs Larkin (not used), Henderson (not used), Parker (replaced Hughes 85), Withers (not used), Ferris (replaced Simpson 90)

Crusaders: Dougherty, Burns, Gault, Coates, Mitchell, Soares, Cushley, Holden, McClean, Clarke, Heatley subs O'Neill (not used), Carvill (replaced Holden 34), Forsythe (not used), Owens (replaced Soares 73), Snoddy (replaced Mitchell 66)

Referee: Ross Dunlop

Tags:  Crusaders  Portadown