Not for the first time in recent seasons, Cliftonville were made to pay for not making the most of their first-half chances at The Showgrounds as Ballymena United progressed to the League Cup Final.
Having created the majority of the openings in the first 45 minutes, the Reds – who had threatened through Jay Donnelly, Joe Gormley and Conor McDonald – fell behind when Leroy Millar pounced on a rebound on the hour.
Tony Kane glanced home a header to double the Sky Blues’ lead and, though substitute Jude Winchester pulled one back on 89 minutes, United wrapped up their victory deep into injury-time when Cathair Friel found the net from deep inside his own half with goalkeeper Brian Neeson caught upfield for a now-or-never corner attack.
Cliftonville: Neeson, McGovern, Ives, Harney, Curran, Garrett, Bagnall, Gormley, J Donnelly, Cosgrove, McDonald. Subs: Dunne, Winchester (McDonald, 77 mins), Lavery, Grimes, R Donnelly (Garrett, 65 mins).