CRUSADERS 0 GLENTORAN 1
Glentoran booked their place in the final of the Irish Cup with a 1-0 win over Crusaders at Mourneview Park.
Curtis Allen’s clinical finish in the 39th minute was enough to send the Glens through to the May 2 showpiece.
Allen dispatched a volley past Sean O’Neill from five yards following a neat interchange with Kym Nelson.
It was the defining moment in a tense and fiery cup clash played in front of a bumper crowd of 2400 fans.
The Crues almost snatched a dramatic equaliser in the second minute of injury time, but substitute Diarmuid O’Carroll’s looping shot rebounded off the woodwork.
The winning goal arrived during a disjointed opening half.
Crusaders winger Gavin Whyte squandered a decent chance in the fifth minute when he failed to get his head to Declan Caddell’s cross.
Richard Clarke entered referee Raymond Crangle’s book in the 26th minute following a late challenge on Stephen McAlorum as the atmosphere cranked up a level.
The Glens broke the deadlock in the 39th minute with Allen showing his predatory skills in front of goal.
The striker played a deft back-heeled pass to Nelson on the left, and when Nelson crossed into the middle Allen nipped in front Colin Coates to cushion the pass before picking his spot with a shot from five yards.
The half ended with Calum Birney being booked for a clumsy challenge on Paul Heatley and Nelson also receiving a yellow card for foul on Clarke.
Crusaders started the second half with more gusto and forged a decent opening in the 57th minute, but after being played down the right channel by Clarke, Jordan Owens’ touch let him down and the ball bobbled behind for a goal-kick.
Moments later Heatley pulled a low shot wide of the mark from 10 yards.
The Crues went close to claiming an equaliser in the 87th minute, but Declan Caddell could only find the side netting from an acute angle after Colin Coates nodded down Heatley’s corner.
Elliott Morris held Nathan Hanley’s bouncing free-kick moments later, while at the other end Sean O’Neill denied Allen with his feet.
O’Carroll then went agonisingly close to claiming a dramatic equaliser in the second minute of injury time, but the substitute’s shot rebounded off the woodwork from 12 yards.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, Burns, Leeman (O’Carroll 85), Coates, McClean, Caddell, Clarke (Hanley 76), Whyte, Heatley, Owens, Adamson.
Subs not used: Peoples, McKibbin, O’Hanlon.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Garrett, Kane, McCaffrey (Addis 92), Birney, Allen, Stewart (Scullion 78), Henderson, McAlorum, Nelson (Gordon 75), Holland.
Subs not used: McKee, Hogg.
Referee: Raymond Crangle (Belfast)