Coleraine to meet Crusaders in European play-off final

Coleraine and Crusaders will face off in the European play-off final after they overcame Glentoran and Carrick Rangers respectively on Wednesday night.

Coleraine beat last year's winners of the play-offs Glentoran 3-0 at the Oval.

At Seaview, Crusaders claimed a 3-1 win against Carrick Rangers.

The Crues and the Bannsiders will now meet at Seaview on Monday 6 May to decide which team will secure the final Europa Conference League qualifying spot.

Bannsiders march on to play-off final

Oran Kearney’s men opened the scoring on 20 minutes when Jamie Glackin played the ball across to the right flank for Andy Scott, whose cross was met by a bullet header from McGonigle which found the bottom left-hand corner.

As half-time approached Aaron McCarey produced a superb reaction save to stop Matthew Shevlin’s strike with McGonigle sending the rebound well wide.

The first half drama wasn’t done there though as deep into stoppage time, Glackin’s powerful effort looked like it was going to double the away side’s lead.

Glentoran stopper McCarey made an impressive outstretched save to palm the strike away, however, as he attempted to gather the danger, he clashed with Luke McCullough and fell.

The alert Lyndon Kane was then able to lift the ball over the Glentoran stopper and into the back of the net for his first goal of the season.

Glentoran started the second period with intent with Graham Kelly having to make a crucial clearance off the line to stop David Fisher’s strike, before Rory Brown was forced to make a diving save to stop Junior’s header.

The Bannsiders further extended their advantage in the 70th minute when Glackin backheeled McGonigle’s corner back to the January signing and his resulting strike from a tight angle went through the legs of McCarey and into the net.

Things went from bad to worse for the home side with just five minutes remaining when Fuad Sule received his second yellow card of the game for a foul on Shevlin after being cautioned for a challenge on Stephen O’Donnell just nine seconds into the game.

Crues too strong for Carrick

Crusaders struck an early blow with a goal inside seven minutes at Seaview.

Ross Clarke made strides on the right flank and his cross drifted over Carrick defender Albert Watson and fell perfectly for Adam Lecky to score with a downward header, despite Rangers goalkeeper Ross Glendinning getting a hand to the ball.

Both keepers were called into action soon after, with Glendinning saving Ben Kennedy’s drive, while at the other end, Jonny Tuffey held Kyle Cherry’s strike for Carrick.

Jordan Forsythe almost added a second in spectacular fashion when he spotted Glendinning off his line and let fly from just inside the Carrick half but, much to the keeper’s relief, the effort dropped onto the roof of the net,

Crusaders doubled their advantage as the game moved into first half stoppage time.

Philip Lowry had the ball with his back to goal and although he couldn’t get a shot away, the ball dropped for Stewart Nixon to fire home on the half-volley from the edge of the penalty area.

The first half scoring still wasn’t finished as Carrick got right back into the game with Danny Gibson bundling home from close range after Crusaders failed to clear Cherry’s corner.

Crusaders gave themselves some breathing space on 54 minutes when Clarke’s cross from the right was headed home by Kennedy, just ahead of Lecky, with Joe Crowe, on the line, only able to help the ball into the net.