Crusaders dump out holders Glentoran
Holders Glentoran last night crashed out of the Sadler’s Peaky Blinder Irish Cup in a night of drama at the Oval.
Veteran defender Billy Joe Burns hit the all-important winner to book Crusaders a slot in the semi-final of the tournament
It certainly was a cracking cup tie, but Stephen Baxter’s boys, who last lifted the trophy back in 2019, deserved their success.
The Crues had a let-off after only four minutes. Dale Gorman’s short corner kick found Jamie McDonagh, who cut in from the right before letting fly only to see his shot cannon back off the crossbar.
But it was the Crues who made the breakthrough five minutes later. Ben Kennedy whipped in a delicious corner kick from the right and Burns got up above everyone else and his downward header flashed past Rory Brown.
Baxter’s team than had a decent shout for a penalty kick when Kennedy went down under a challenge from Gael Bigirimana inside the box, but referee Ian McNabb wasn’t interested.
Crusaders almost doubled their lead on 21 minutes. The gangling Adam Lecky was hauled back by Rhys Marshall on the left and, when Clarke floated in the free kick, Jordan Forsythe’s header crashed off a post.
And, they were only inches away again in their next attack. Bigirimana needlessly handled – it earned him a booking -- a Forsythe cross and when Clarke stepped up to hit the free kick from just outside the box, his effort inched past the post with Brown rooted to the spot.
The Crues again threatened after the restart when Clarke buckled under a challenge from Gorman.
The midfielder dusted himself down to take the free kick and although he whipped it up and over the defensive, the ball curled over the top.
Back came the Glens with Gorman testing Jonny Tuffey with a 35-yard free kick that the goalkeeper had to flick over the top after McDonagh had been flattened by Clarke.
The Glens thought they had levelled on the hour when Ruaidhri Donnelly supplied a superb finish to a Marshall pass, but the big striker had strayed marginally offside, and his effort was ruled out.
But the Crues then laid siege at the other end with Caolan Marron blocking from Clarke before Lecky’s flick appeared to come off the hand of McCullough, but again referee McNabb turned away the claims.
McDermott then lost patience and introduced Conor McMenamin, out for two months with a broken toe, and Ciaran O’Connor for Seanan Clucas and McDonagh.
And, it almost paid an instant dividend as McMenamin got up to meet a Paddy McClean cross, nodding it on for Ruaidhri Donnelly, who somehow directed his effort over the top.
Kennedy then missed a great chance of hitting a killer second goal for the Crues when he was presented with a free header following Forsythe’s deep cross, but Brown manager to finger-tip over the crossbar.
With the clock ticking down, the Glens put the visitors under intense pressure. Jay Donnelly had a shot deflected clear by Jarlath O’Rourke before Tuffey produced a wonder save to keep out a shot from O’Connor.
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