Glentoran's unbeaten run came to an end this afternoon when they went down 3-1 to Crusaders at the Oval.
The game took a while to get going with the first effort on goal coming in the 7th minute; David Magowan's tame shot being easily dealt with by Elliott Morris. Johnny Addis, continuing his excellent form at the heart of the Glentoran defence, was on hand to deny Jordan Owens 2 minutes later. On 10 minutes the Glens won a corner. Fra McCaffrey whipped the ball in and Barry Holland got on the end of it but his header lacked power and was gathered by Sean O'Neill. On the quarter hour mark Marcus Kane had to receive treatment after a challenge from Timothy Adamson. Kane, returned to the action minutes later. On 18 minutes David Scullion broke down the left. His dangerous ball into the area was sliced clear by Colin Coates for a corner. From the set piece Holland found Kane and his shot was well saved by O'Neill at the second attempt, under pressure from Curtis Allen. 5 minutes later Kane linked up with Allen but Joshua Robinson was on hand to clear the danger. On 30 minutes a quick break out of defence from Glentoran led to another opportunity for Allen but his optimistic shot/lob was wide of the goal.
With 32 minutes played the visitors went in front, somewhat against the run of play. A typical long punt forward from the Crusaders defence wasn't dealt with by Willie Garrett and Jordan Owens went through with just Morris to beat. The Glens keeper did well to save Owens' initial shot but the ball broke kindly for the Crues number 18 and he tucked it home at the second attempt. The goal unsettled Glentoran and a minute later in might have been 2-nil. A poor clearance from Elliott Morris went straight to Diarmuid O'Carroll but, fortunately for the Glens custodian, O'Carroll hit the ball straight back to him. 9 minutes from the break Jordan Stewart did well on the edge of the visitors penalty area. He found Fra McCaffrey but his cross-shot was well held by O'Neill. Referee Marshall awarded Crusaders a free kick some 30 yards from goal on 40 minutes with most in the ground feeling that Addis had been fouled by O'Caroll rather than the other was around. Richard Clake took the free kick and found Adamson in the area but he headed wide. Heatley fired over from the corner of the 18-yard box whilst at the other end Stephen McAlorum shot wide when well placed. In first half stoppage time McAlorum lost possession on the edge of the Crusaders box. Again the route one punt out of defence caught out the Glentoran back line and O'Carroll raced onto the ball. Morris challenged him on the right side of the penalty area and O'Carroll went down. After some hesitation from the officials, referee Marshall pointed to the spot although allegedly the decision was actually made by the fourth official. O'Carroll took responsibility himself and found the bottom corner and give the visitors a 2-nil interval advantage.
Into the second half and Heatley went close to extending the lead; his shot being deflected wide of Morris but also wide of the post. We then had a little bit of magic from Fra McCaffrey on the edge of the Crusaders penalty area. McCaffrey attempted to flick the ball between two players and one of them, Craig McClean, deflected tha ball away with his hand. Glentoran were awarded the free kick with McClean fortunate to escape any punishment from the referee. Curtis Allen lined up the free kick as Marshall tried in vain to make the wall retreat the necessary 10 yards.;Allen's shot just cleared the crossbar. Marcus Kane then went close to pulling a goal back but again his effort was just too high.On 69 minutes it was virtually game over. Heatley went through 1 v 1 with Morris and the Glentoran skipper did well to keep his shot out. Just as in the first half however the ball broke straight to a Crusaders player, this time substitute McCutcheon, and his low shot found the back of the net. Two Glentoran substitutes then combined to create a chance at the Sydenham end. Danny McKee went down the left and his cross to the back post was controlled by Steven Gordon.
Unfortunately Gordon's shot was deflected just wide for a corner. McCaffrey took the corner and when the ball eventually found its way back to him his low ball drilled into the 6-yard box was turned home by Marcus Kane. 3 minutes later another Kane effort was blocked on the edge of the area by the hand of McClean. Another free kick to the Glens on the edge of the box and again the hapless Marshall was unable to make the wall retreat the required distance. Steven McCullough curled a beautiful free-kick aroun the wall but the ball went inches wide of the far post. A goal then would have set up a grandstand finish but it wasn't to be. In the final minute Crusaders captain, Colin Coates went right through the back of Danny McKee. A shocking challenge for which he would have been very grateful not to have received any punishment.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell.
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Holland, McCullough, Addis, Garrett, McAlorum, Kane, McCaffrey, Scullion, Stewart & Allen
Subs: McKee for Scullion (62) and Gordon for Stewart (70)
Little Lily's Bistro 'Man of the Match ' was Marcus Kane