Crusaders’ blistering start helped to blow away Glentoran as goals by Matthew Snoddy and Ross Clarke inside 12 minutes served to dampen the visitors’ spirits towards the 3-0 reverse on a rain-soaked Seaview afternoon.
With around 10 seconds on the clock it was 1-0 to the Crues when a move from the kick-off kicked off the scoring.
Sean Ward’s pass forward was steered on by Jordan Owens and a Matthew Snoddy volley dropped over the line as Elliott Morris struggled to deal with the long-range effort.
Glentoran struggled overall to settle and a sweeping Clarke pass was then controlled by Paul Heatley but Owens just failed to connect.
The Glens’ greatest first-half threat arrived from set-piece situations, most notably off Ross Redman.
However, the free-kick highlight came from Clarke on 12 minutes when his powerful strike around the outside of the wall nestled inside Morris’ left-hand upright.
The pace naturally dropped after such an entertaining opening spell - but Heatley hit half-time frustrated after managing to round Morris on two occasions but steering the first attempt wide and having the second blocked.
The Glens hit half-time having failed to force Sean O’Neill into a significant save and the greatest cause for concern came off his team-mate Kyle Owens as the defender attempted to clear a Redman free-kick but could only divert it just wide of the home target.
Crusaders’ second-half level of comfort was put under increased risk with Sean Ward’s red card on 64 minutes as a result of two quickfire bookings.
However, Crues captain Colin Coates cemented control on 79 minutes by steering in a Clarke delivery.
CRUSADERS: O’Neill, McChrystal, Coates, Ward, Forsythe, K.Owens, J.Owens (Carvill, 61), Snoddy, Heatley (Lowry, 74), Clarke, Patterson (Brown, 74).
Subs (not used): Doherty, Glackin, Cushley, Ruddy.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Garrett (Ferrin, 54), Kane, Birney, McMahon (McGuigan, 61), Herron, McDaid (Byrne, 68), Pepper, Crowe, Gordon, Redman.
Subs (not used): Gallagher, Nelson, McCarthy, O’Neill.
Referee: Lee Tavinder.