Paul Heatley hit home a second-half double as Crusaders added Irish Cup misery to Glentoran’s troubled season with a 4-1 victory in the first fixture as boss for Gary Smyth.
Former Derry City players Gerard Doherty and Rory Hale were handed debuts for Crusaders, with Smyth turning to increased attacking options by introducing Darren Murray and Lukasz Gwiazda.
Gwiazda, signed late in the week from Harland and Wolff Welders, operated behind Murray and Curtis Allen and looked bright early on with an added aerial threat.
In truth, both clubs hit the heights - in terms of approach play rather than performance levels - on a regular basis before the break.
The most significant scoring opportunity fell to Murray past the half-hour mark when the Glens striker put Kyle Owens under pressure and managed a first-time touch to the loose ball inside the box but it drifted past the post.
The tie kicked into gear with two goals in as many minutes after the interval as Ross Clarke’s right-wing cross was forced home from a few yards by Heatley.
However, Gwiazda made it a debut to remember moments later by attacking a wayward Curtis Allen shot off Ross Redman’s free-kick and diverting home the equaliser.
Heatley helped Crusaders regain the upper hand on 68 minutes by showing pace to find space behind the Glens defence then composure to steer a shot beyond Elliott Morris.
Jordan Owens cemented control for the hosts on 75 minutes by gaining the final touch inside a packed penalty area off David Cushley’s corner-kick delivery.
Crues substitute Matthew Snoddy grabbed the final goal with basically the final kick by capitalising on Nathan Kerr’s late error.
CRUSADERS: Doherty, Coates, Lowry, Ward, Forsythe, K.Owens, J.Owens, Brown, Heatley (McGinley, 80), Clarke (Cushley, 69), Hale (Snoddy, 76).
Subs (not used): O’Neill, Holden, Thompson, Patterson.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Birney, Gallagher (Davidson, 84), Herron (Gordon, 27), Allen, Murray (O’Neill, 72), Kerr, Pepper, Gwiazda, Crowe, Redman.
Subs (not used): Garrett, Nelson, Ferrin, McCarthy.
Referee: Evan Boyce.