Crusaders today made it through to the Semi Final of the Irn Bru Cup defeating full time professional side Dundee United at their home patch in Scotland. An injury time winner from sub Gavin Whyte made sure they toppled the holders out of this years competition.
After a superbly observed minutes silence for Remeberance Day Crusaders started the game brightly with Jordan Forsythe just failing to meet an early cross. Both sides traded half efforts as they worked each other out but it was Crusaders who where the more inventive. Causing problems every time they went forward the Dundee United defence struggled at times but Crusaders could not take advantage. David Cushley had a tame header saved while Jamie Glackin just could not control as he ran in on goal. When United did get into a dangerous position Rodney Brown was on hand to deal with them or Brian Jensen saved easily. A Crusaders free kick 25 yards out was touched too David Cushley but his effort went well wide and a cross for the same player was just too high to head. Jamie Glackin again pressurised the United defence but they scrambled the ball away and again they did well when Declan Caddell threatened. United had done very little in terms of attack and credit to Crusaders defence when called upon as they dealt with what was in front of them. Jordan Forsythe then had a free kick saved before David Cushley had a great chance but his attempted lob went straight to the keeper. Jamie Glackin then had a shot blocked and Mark McChrystal headed over from the resulting corner and the half ended 0-0 but Crusaders where by far the better side.
Dundee United responded to a half time rollicking and came out with the bit between their teeth. Again the back four stood strong with Sean Ward making one timely intervention to stop a United attack after Crusaders had gone close. It was Dundee United who opened the scoring on 55 minutes with a screamer. Billy King did some good work outside the Crusaders box and he passed to Fraser Fyvie who let fly from 25 yards giving Brian Jensen no chance. Crusaders came straight back at Dundee United looking an equaliser but they dealt with it. Gavin Whyte replaced Matthew Snoddy and this was too prove pivital in the game. Dundee United went close again but Rodney Brown and Sean Ward both did well to keep them out before Brian Jensen was called on to make a good save. It was the turn of Dundee Uniteds defence to block a Crusaders shot that was going in but seconds later it was 1-1. The resulting corner was crossed in and David Cushley was standing unmarked four yards out and he headed home much to the delight of the travelling support on 67 minutes. Brian Jensen had a let off when the ball squirmed from his hands but he recovered quickly to collect before Jamie Glackin had a shot blocked again and Rodney Brown covered in defence again with a good tackle. Both sides went for the win but neither could make things count in front of goal. Jordan Owens and Billy Joe Burns had replaced Jamie Glackin and Declan Caddell respectively and the fresh legs gave Crusaders options. As the game closed in on injury time Crusaders survived a United attack and the ball whistled by the post to keep Crusaders in it. Brian Jensen then pulled off a super save when he dived full stretch to tip over a United long range effort and again got down well to the shot from the corner. He then punted the ball up the pitch and after a knock down Gavin Whyte got in behind the United ddefence and crashed the ball home in the 92nd minute to make it 2-1 to Crusaders and send the bench and support wild. With no time to react the referee blew his whistle and Crusaders had won.
So through to the Semi Final of the Irn Bru Cup and what an achievement it is. The draw will take place on Tuesday 14th Novemeber in Glasgow at 1pm with the Semi Final being played on the weekend of February 17th/18th. Well done to everyone involved in creating yet more history for the club and we now look to Wednesday night and the visit of Linfield to Seaview in the League Cup Quarter Finals.
Full report to follow.