Reds lift League Cup after epic final in front of record crowd

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Cliftonville celebrations in full swing

Q Radio Sport

Cliftonville staged a remarkable turnaround to storm back from two goals down to defeat Coleraine in what turned out to be a gripping, record-breaking BetMcLean League Cup final at Windsor Park.

In front of a crowd of 11, 103 - the best ever in the League Cup - the sides produced no fewer than seven goals, also a record for the final.

But perhaps not unexpectedly given the occasion and what was at stake, the opening 45 minutes were a tight and cagey affair.

Despite that, the Reds created the first effort of note as early as the fourth minute when Ryan Curran headed inches wide from Levi Ives' free-kick.

The Bannsiders had chances too after Matthew Shevlin blazed the ball over from inside the area when Jamie Glackin had teed him up while Josh Carson dragged one wide not long after that.

Reds winger Jamie McDonagh might have broken the deadlock on 18 minutes only to curl the ball from outside the area past and over the far post.

And he was involved again midway through the first half when his inswinging corner found Curran at the back post but his subsequent effort was blocked.

Then, on 35 minutes, Rory Hale was next to have a go but his volley from just outside the area was delivered straight at keeper Gareth Deane.

The second half turned out to be everything the first wasn't.

Coleraine moved in front on 58 minutes through Shevlin who fired home, against the run of play, after Lyndon Kane had slipped him in to beat the advancing Luke McNicholas.

With their tails up, the Bannsiders doubled their advantage just five minutes after that when Stephen Lowry turned the ball home in off the crossbar after that ball had dropped for him from a corner.

But back came Cliftonville. Joe Gormley reduced the arrears on 74 minutes with a header after connecting with Ryan Curran's cross from the left.

Then, right at the end of normal time, Paul O'Neill levelled when he pounced on the loose ball after Gormley's initial effort came back off the crossbar.

Coleraine were reduced to ten men a couple of minutes into extra-time when, following an off the ball incident, James McLaughlin was shown a straight red card by referee Andrew Davey.

That proved to be the catalyst for the Reds to push on to secure the win.

O'Neill doubled his tally on 104 minutes with a shot high into the roof of the net after meeting Chris Curran's cross from the right.

And, three minutes after that, victory was assured when Gormley also bagged his second of the game with a tap in into the empty net from another Ryan Curran ball.

Curtis Allen did add a third for Coleraine right at the end of extra-time but by then there was no way back.

Cliftonville: McNicholas, Ives, Hale, R. Curran, McDonagh, Lowe, Addis, Doherty, Turner, Gallagher, Kearns subs McKenna (not used), McDermott (not used), C. Curran (replaced Hale 53) , O'Neill (replaced Doherty 70), Donnelly (not used), Gormley (replaced Kearns 61), Coates (replaced McDonagh 118)

Coleraine: Deane, Kane, Brown, McKendry, Lowry, Carson, O'Donnell, Glackin, Traynor, Kelly, Shevlin subs Gallagher (not used), Mullan (not used), Jarvis (not used), McLaughlin (replaced Glackin 78), Bradley (replaced Shevlin 88), Wilson (replaced McKendry 73), Allen (replaced Traynor 106)

Cliftonville captain Chris Curran lifts the BetMcLean League Cup

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