Glentoranheld champions Crusaders to a 2-2 draw at The Oval in a stunning Belfast derby.
Drama started when Glentoran goalkeeper Elliott Morris received a red card in the fourth minute. Billy Joe Burns played a long ball towards Jordan Owens, who expertly knocked it into the path of Paul Heatley.
The former Carrick Rangers man used his pace to speed away from the Glentoran defence, and he looked set to score when Morris clipped his ankles in a vain attempt to get the ball.
With no Glentoran defender in the vicinity, referee Andrew Davey had no choice but to send the experienced goalkeeper off. An unfortunate David Scullion was replaced by second-choice goalkeeper Aaron Hogg.
With his first touch of the season, Hogg pushed Michael Carvill’s sixth minute penalty round the post, with acrobatic dive to his right.
Jordan Stewart scored an early contender for goal of the season in the 19th minute. The Glentoran wonder-kid picked the ball up just outside the centre-circle and ran into space before unleashing a powerful 30-yard effort that rocketed into Sean O’Neill’s top-left corner, giving the ten men an early lead.
The Crues equalised in the 40th minute when Richard Clarke put in a smart free-kick from the right-side that Josh Robinson headed home from inside the six-yard box.
Glentoran regained the lead ten minutes into the second period when Colin Coates hacked down Curtis Allen inside the area. Jordan Stewart fired the resulting penalty into the bottom-right corner.
The Crues equalised in the 63rd minute. A sweeping free-kick from Craig McClean found Jordan Owens at the back post, who headed the ball high into Hogg’s net.
Glentoran: Morris; Holland, Birney, Magee, Kane; McAlorum, Nelson (81 McCaffrey); McMenamin, Stewart, Scullion (5 Hogg); Allen
Subs: McKee, Addis, Garrett
Crusaders: O’Neill; Burns, Coates, Robinson, McClean; Carvill (O’Carroll), Clarke, Mitchell (76 Snoddy) Forsythe; Heatley, Owens
Subs: McKibbin, Vauls, Cameron
Ref: Andrew Davey (84 Graham McIlwrath)