CRUSADERS: Early goals seal convincing win over Glentoran
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.