FOOTBALL: Morris magic frustrates the Crues

Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris played down an incident with the Crusaders support at full-time. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye
Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris played down an incident with the Crusaders support at full-time. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

There’s one thing all observers agreed on at Seaview on Saturday.

That’s the fact that Elliott Morris was in outstanding form and pulled off arguably the save of the season to help his side to a 2-2 draw with league leaders Crusaders.

Curtis Allen celebrated his new three year contract with a brace. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Curtis Allen celebrated his new three year contract with a brace. Photograph by Stephen Hamilton/Presseye

Curtis Allen celebrated his new three year contract by twice putting his side into the lead.

But a first half Gavin Whyte penalty and a late Richard Clarke effort earned the Crues a point.

That deflected shot brought the Crues’ eighth goal in the final 10 minutes of their last 10 league outings.

Perhaps, on that basis, it was all but inevitable but Morris did his best to stave it off. He pulled off a number of saves throughout the game - most notably from Jordan Owens with the score at 2-1. The Glens veteran scooped a header from the goal-line with a superb one-handed save.

“Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t,” Morris reflected, modestly. “Thankfully I managed to keep the majority of them out. We defended quite deep, which is understandable coming to Seaview.

“With the way their second goal came about, via a deflection, I’m a bit disappointed not to come away with the three points. They’ll probably say the same with all the possession and chances they had.”

Morris’ boss, and former team-mate in underage Crusaders sides, Gary Haveron was a proud man after his keeper summed up his side’s defensive efforts.

“With 25 minutes to go, we dug a trench 25 yards from goal and we all jumped in,” he said.

“The Crues are a class act. They can hurt you from so many different areas. They rotate in midfield and anybody can go forward. They’ve got goals all over the park but we put in a spirited and hearted performance. I’m disappointed. I would have loved to have won that game.

“Our goalkeeper’s been absolutely fantastic. Whenever he had to come out and smother balls, he was there. Whenever he had to pull off Schemicel-esque saves at full stretch, he did that as well.

“Elliott probably hasn’t got the full recognition that he deserves because Glentoran haven’t been in the position up there winning leagues. He’s been a fantastic stalwart for the club and he continues to be. He defies his age and long may it continue. Our goalkeeping coach nearly had a heart attack when he pulled off that save - he’ll not sleep tonight.”

Even the Crues boss Stephen Baxter acknowledged Morris’ match-saving performance - even if that was about all he and Haveron agreed on.

“They were in our box twice and scored twice,” he said. “We were in their box for the whole 90 minutes and created 10 chances. Their goalkeeper has been sensational.

“We had our best performance by some distance and somehow contrived not to come away with all three points.

“It’s just fantastic to watch. When you see people marauding, working play to the wings, coming inside, getting shots away - it was sensational.

“They got a goal from a corner which was poor defending and then from a hooked ball into the box as we went to sleep again. Outside of that, they didn’t show anything in this game.

“We destroyed them. We passed them out of this game all day. They defended for their lives, they wasted time from the first whistle of the second half. They’ll be very lucky going home with a point.”

As if his day hadn’t been eventful enough, at full-time Morris was involved in a fracas with the Crues support, later claiming he was spat on.

“I’m not an aggressive guy but when somebody spits at you from two yards, it’s hard not to react,” he said.

“You can take the abuse but when someone spits at you, it’s not nice.”