Ten years ago Glentoran travelled to Seaview and clinched the league title with a 2-nil victory (McCallion & Lockhart) over Crusaders. Today the roles were reversed with the Shore Road side finally claiming the Danske Bank Premiership crown thanks to goals from Caddell and Heatley. Congratulations from everyone at Glentoran to Crusaders FC, Danske Bank Premiership champions 2014-15.
Although there remained a remote mathematical possibility that Crusaders wouldn't win the league the Glentoran squad gave their opponents a guard of honour as they came on to the Seaview pitch. The referee Keith Kennedy joined in too, surprisingly donning a red top for the game!
Glentoran manager, Eddie Patterson, went with a different formation at the start of this game playing three at the back (Birney, Addis & Garrett), with two wing backs (Kane & McCullough). McAlorum, Nelson and Scullion were in midfield with Fra McCaffrey, playing his 50th game for Glentoran, playing just off striker, Curtis Allen.
Just 2 minutes in and Curtis Allen nutmegged Josh Robinson on the edge of the area but his low drive across goal evaded everyone, including David Scullion at the back post. Diarmuid O'Carroll had the home side's first effort a minute later but his shot found the side netting. Declan Caddell broke the deadlock on 5 minutes when the ball broke for him on the edge of the area. Caddell made no mistake, firing past Elliott Morris to put the Crues in front. A foul on the edge of the area on Stephen McAlorum gave the Glens a chance to get level but Willie Garrett's 20 yard free kick went inches wide with O'Neill stranded. Marcus Kane then had a drive deflected for a corner off Heatley whilst at the other end on 20 minutes Heatley fired his effort high and wide off the target. O'Carroll then wasted another opportunity (21) before a Free kick from Richard Clarke took a deflection off the Glentoran wall and Elliott Morris had to adjust his position quickly to turn the ball over the bar. From the resulting corner Stephen McAlorum came to Glentoran'ss rescue, clearing Colin Coates' header off the line.
Just before the half hour mark Kym Nelson's poor control saw him lose possession in midfield. The home side broke away and only the feet of Elliott Morris denied O'Carroll. On 31 minutes Willie Garrett's break forward was crudely ended by Jordan Owens. Garrett required lengthy treatment and the big Crusaders forward was lucky not to pick up a card. Owens was involved in another incident minutes later. This time Calum Birney went down clutching his head after an aerial challenge. Referee Kennedy awarded Glentoran the free kick but again chose to keep his cards in his pocket. 2 minutes from the break Marcus Kane won the ball in midfield before breaking forward and finding David Scullion. Curtis Allen was in space in the area but Scullion's poor pass failed to pick him out. The last action of the first half saw Glentoran awarded a free kick 20 yards from goal. Stephen McAlorum took the set piece but his effort went well wide of the goal.
Niall Henderson replaced the struggling Willie Garrett after the break with the team resorting to a 4-4-1-1 formation. The Glens came out much brighter and following a McCaffrey effort a 25 yard effort from Marcus Kane struck the post. On 53 minutes Jordan Owens won possession in the Glentoran area before laying the ball back to........the referee! Mr Kennedy's red shirt confusing more than the fans! Just before the hour a long range effort from Steven McCullough was just a couple of yards wide of the post. McCaffrey lost possession of the ball in midfield on 61 minutes and the home side broke quickly. Billy-Joe Burns fired the ball into the danger area and his cross-shot almost caught out Elliott Morris but the Glens custodian helped the ball over the crossbar. On 69 minutes a terrible ball from Niall Henderson led to another Crusaders attack. Steven McCullough made a superb tackle to initially deny Owens but was then harshly penalised as he tried to complete the clearance with referee Kennedy quickly pointing to the spot. Diarmuid O'Carroll stepped up but blasted the spot kick over the bar and into the stand.
With 15 minutes remaining Glentoran's man-of-the-match, Stephen McAlorum, sent a superb through ball for Curtis Allen. O'Neill was quickly off his line though and denied the Glentoran striker his chance. Elliott Morris then made a great save from Gavin Whyte whilst substitute Jordan Stewart was well of target with a 25 yard shot. With 5 minutes remaining O'Neill again denied Allen, this time saving his near post effort. Marcus Kane's attempt in the final minute of normal time swerved away from goal and then with 91 minutes on the clock Glentoran's best chance of the game fell to Jordan Stewart. The young forward struck it sweetly but O'Neill pulled off a superb stop. In the final minute of added time McCaffrey lost possession in midfield and Paul Heatley secured the points, slipping the ball past Elliott Morris.
Glentoran face Cliftonville at the Oval next Saturday in the final Danske Bank Premiership game of the season. The following week the Oval hosts the Irish Cup final, probably for the last time.
Photographs by Thomas Sewell
Highlights on BBC Sport NI HERE
Glentoran: Morris (capt), Kane, Garrett, Addis, Birney, McCullough, McAlorum, Nelson, Sullion, McCaffrey & Allen.
Subs: Henderson for Garrett (46), Stewart for Scullion (58) and Gordon for Nelson (74). Unused: Hogg & McKee.