It all started so well with departing boss David Jeffrey being presented with a piece of crystal by Crusaders chairman Stephen Bell to acknowledge his final game in charge of Linfield at Seaview.
Sadly, it all ended in a war of words following an action-packed 90 minutes, with Jeffrey angered by suggestions that a number of Crusaders players claimed they would be doing their best to hand Cliftonville the Premier title on the final day of the season.
This was a fantastic advertisement for Irish League football. Five goals, two dismissals, four yellow cards, a big crowd and good old slagging match at the finish.
Andy Waterworth was the two-goal hero for Linfield, scoring in each half to keep his team on title track. Nathan Hanley shot the North Belfast side into an early lead but Aaron Burns equalised short afterwards.
Waterworth struck before the break only for big Timmy Adamson to level things up again in the second half. But the former Glentoran striker was to have the final say, finishing off a Michel Gault cross 18 minutes from time.
Crusaders finished with only nine men with Paul Heatley and Chris Morrow both being shown a red card by referee Raymond Hetherington, so it was no surprise that tempers flared as the two teams made their way to the dressing room at the finish.
“I hope it was only heat of the moment stuff,” said an angry Jeffrey. “But it was said to my lads by certain Crusaders players that Cliftonville will win the league because they’ll be lying down on the final game of the season.
“I’m not going to name the players, but I hope it was said when emotions were running high just after the game.
“It’s not some wild allegation - several of my players heard it. As a player and manager, never once in my life did I want to do anything but for my own team. It never, never never entered my psyche to lie down against anyone.”
Crusaders manager Stephen Baxter played down the suggestion that some of his players spoke out of turn.
“I never heard it ... and it will never happen,” he said. “Everyone that plays for me plays for the shirt and gives their very best. If anyone lies down in our football team, they’ll not be here next year.
“I simply don’t do ‘lying down’. It will never happen I can assure you.”
On the game, which somehow got lost in the aftermath of what happed after the final whistle, Baxter added: “Paul Heatley deserved to go because he stood on the player (Michael Gault). He apologised to his team mates afterwards. He has been working on that side of his game. He’ll get better as he gets older.
“Morrow’s tackle was a fraction late... tackles like that went on all over the park. It was a yellow card, not red.
“But when you have a player in a blue shirt refereeing the football game - not the match official himself, then you are up against it.
“The manner of our performance was epic. It was true Crusaders like.”