A STUART Dallas goal early in the second half was enough to book Crusaders a place in January's IRN-BRU League Cup final.
The 20-year-old pounced just two minutes after the break when United 'keeper Wayne Drummond fumbled the ball after he appeared to have safely gathered an Aaron Stewart back header.
With the gale force winds at their back Ballymena enjoyed the better of whatever first-half chances were created in the unfavourable coditions with perhaps a 35-yard Tony Kane free-kick early in proceedings being the pick of the bunch as he forced Crues 'keeper Sean O'Neill into a full stretch save to turn the ball away.
After Dallas' goal - and with the wind in their favour - Crusaders came close again when substitute Jordan Owens with a curling 20-yard drive, followed by a Gareth McKeown effort from the centre circle which the wind carried narrowly over.
O'Neill was called into action again on 76 minutes when United's Scottish duo - Gary McCutcheon and Allan Jenkins - combined for the latter to produce another superb stop from the visiting 'keeper.
Dallas almost doubled his tally later in the game while Matt Hazley had a stoppage time attempt turned over.
Ballymena United: Drummond, Kane, Vauls, Stewart, Carson, Teggart, Surgenor, Baker, Downey, Munster, Lowry subs Nelson (not used), McCutcheon (replaced Baker 53), Jenkins (replaced Carson 59), Woods (replaced Vauls 69), Rodgers (not used)
Crusaders: O'Neill, McKeown, McBride, Leeman, Magowan, Morrow, Gargan, Caddell, Dallas, Watson, Halliday subs McCann (not used), McMaster (not used), Rainey (replaced Gargan 61), Owens (replaced Halliday 61), Hazley (replaced Caddell 79)
- Stuart Dallas turns away in delight after scoring what proved to be the match winner (Picture: William Cherry/PressEye.com)