IRISH LEAGUE: Crusaders stage comeback to defeat Glentoran

.''Crusaders Paul Heatley  in action with Glentora'ns Jay Magee
.''Crusaders Paul Heatley in action with Glentora'ns Jay Magee

Crusaders 4 Glentoran 2

Stephen Baxter’s Crusaders roared back from two goals down to pocket three precious Danske Premiership points at Seaview.

It was another major statement from the North Belfast team that they have no intentions of relinquishing their title.

It looked so good for Glentoran when Curtis Allen shot the into a two goal lead, but the Crues battled back through strikes from Jordan Forsythe, Matthew Snoddy, Billy Joe Burns and Jordan Owens.

The Glens also had Cairan Caldwell dismissed late on.

Skipper Colin Coates and Billy Joe Burns, who missed the Irish Cup win over Rathfriland, returned to the Crues team after serving a one game suspension.

There was a presentation to Owens before the game after he became the Crusaders’ all time leading scorer last weekend, with 158 strikes. A memento was handed over by Glenn Hunter, the previous holder of the record.

It was Glentoran’s first game since their New Year’s Day defeat at Dungannon. Manager Alan Kernaghan, still reeling with the news that skipper Stephen McAlorum will miss the rest of the season after damaging a cruciate ligament, handed new signing Chris Lavery a starting slot, along with Danny McKee, who has recently returned to the club following a six-month loan spell at Ards.

Owens missed a sitter after only four minutes, having a shot hoofed off the line by Steven McCullough after Paul Heatley’s cut back.

Glentoran roared in front on seven minutes when Sean O’Neill spilled a Barry Holland shot and Allen finished from six yards.

McKee almost made it two before Allen struck again on 32 minutes. He held off a challenge from Davy Magowan before looping the ball over O’Neill.

The Crues got back into it two minutes before the break. Heatley was brought down by Jay Donnell 25 yards out and Forsythe’s free kick was blasted into the bottom corner.

Incredibly, they were level 60 second later. A comedy of errors in the Glens defence presented Snoddy with the chance and his 18 yard drive arrowed into the bottom corner.

It was no surprise when the Crues took the lead for the first time on 62 minutes -- and what a strike it was.

Burns held off a challenge from Ciaran Caldwell before ramming home a beauty form 25 yards, leaving Hogg helpless.

The Crues were assured of the points 15 minutes from the end when Owens met a Michael Carvill cross and his header flashed home.

To make matters worse for the visitors, Cairan Caldwell was dismissed for lashing out at Forsythe just before Owens’ goal.

Crusaders: O’Neill, Burns, Magowan, Coates, Robinson, McClean, Snoddy, Heatley, Owens, Forsythe, Carvill.

Subs not used: Clarke, Mitchell, O’Flynn, (Whyte 89)O’Carroll.

Glentoran: Hogg, Holland, Kane, Magee, Addis, McCaffrey, McKee, Allen, Caldwell, Lavery, McCullough.

Subs not used: Henderson, Birney, Scullion, Smith, McMenamin.

Referee: I McNabb (Newtownabbey).