Published Saturday, 25 January 2014
Cliftonville celebrate the shootout victory at Solitude. (© Pacemaker)
The game was a repeat of the 2013 final which Cliftonville won comfortably, beating their great north Belfast rivals 4-0 at Windsor Park.
However the 2014 decider was a tighter affair, with neither side able to make any headway during the normal time.
After a dour 90 minutes of action the game came to life somewhat in extra time, with both sides squandering gilt-edged chances.
First Jordan Owens found himself with a clear shot at goal from the edge of the area in the 13th minute of extra time, but he sent his shot over the bar.
At the other end Liam Boyce's deflected free kick fell George McMullan inside the six yard box, but Crues stopper got down brilliantly to block the shot.
Both sides squandered further half-chances in the second period of extra time, but ultimately neither could make the breakthrough as the game went to penalties.
Crues captain Colin Coates saw his opening penalty saved by Conor Devlin, while Cliftonville McMullan missed the target with his effort.
We’re just delighted to retain the Cup and see a packed Solitude
Gary Hamilton, Joe Gormley, Nathan Hanley and Diarmuid O'Carroll all found the net, but Devlin was again the hero for the Reds when he went low to his right to save from Jordan Owens.
Ciaran Caldwell netted the fourth penalty to give the holders the advantage, leaving Craig McClean needing to convert his effort to keep Crusaders in contention.
However, he sent his effort wide of Devlin's right-hand post to condemn his side to defeat and seal a second successive League Cup victory for Tommy Breslin's side.
Breslin said: "It was a very tight game, a game of few chances, but it's about winning and we hung in there and were fortunate enough on penalties to come out the right end."
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter meanwhile said it had been a "brutal" game to watch.
He added: "The occasion is a great spectacle but it was the worst game of football I've watched in five years... the game was brutal, very little football played, one or two chances carved out by either team, but the game itself was not very good.
"But there's no complaints from us, we lost the shootout. Congratulations to Cliftonville and things like that can go either for you or against you."
© UTV News