Glentoran 2 Crusaders 2: Watch the Jordan Stewart wonder goal that helped Glens draw the sting from Crues in derby thriller
Rising star Jordan Stewart scored an early goal of the season contender and sent social media into overdrive as Glentoran and Crusaders played a thrilling Belfast derby at The Oval, in match filled with incident and action.
With just 19 minutes on the clock and his side down to 10 men, Glentoran wonder-kid Stewart moved onto the ball just outside the centre-circle and ran into space before unleashing a powerful 30-yard effort that rocketed into keeper Sean O'Neill's top-left corner.
Replays of the goal, filmed by Glentoran TV, immediately began trending on social media websites as fans of clubs all around the league and beyond began sharing the video clip, reminiscent of a previous Glens wonder goal by Mattie Burrows that went viral and earned the striker a Fifa Goal of the Season nomination.
The Glens played 86 minutes with 10 men after goalkeeper Elliott Morris was red carded for denying a clear goalscoring opportunity. This didn't stop Stewart twice giving Eddie Patterson's men the lead, only to see first Joshua Robinson and then Jordan Owens equalise for Crues. When you add in a missed Michael Carvill penalty kick, and a strong shout for a Josh Robinson red card, you have one thoroughly entertaining game of football.
While both teams only have one point from their opening two games, Glentoran fans went home the happier after their side put in gutsy display.
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 sped 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 off the experienced goalkeeper. 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.
The first and most spectacular of Stewart's two goals arrived shortly afterwards.
The Crues the equalised in the 40th minute after Paul Heatley latched onto along ball down the right-flank. Jay Magee struggled to contain Heatley, pulling him to the ground. Richard Clarke put in a smart free-kick from the right-side that Josh Robinson headed home from inside the six-yard box.
The 45th minute produced another talking point. Goalscorer Robinson led with his arm in an aerial challenge, clattering into Curtis Allen. The striker went down clutching his face, but referee Andrew Davey opted for just a yellow card.
The second half was no less action packed than the first. 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.
The final 25 minutes of the game were a frantic affair, which threatened to boil over on occasions. Dairmuid O'Carroll went close for the champions in the 78th minute with low 20-yard drive that went just past the post.
The game took an unusual twist in the 84th minute when referee Andrew Davey hobbled off, to be replaced by fourth official Graham McIlwrath. Bangor-man Davey didn't receive much sympathy from the fans in The Oval's main stand.
Both sides had chances to win the game in the last five minutes while Crusaders sub Matthew Snoddy thought he should have been awarded a penalty after a collision with Barry Hollland, only to see the decision go against him.
This was a giddy game that provided entertainment from the first kick, until the last. Ultimately, the will be scant consolation for Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter. The champions would have hoped for a much better start to their defence of the Gibson Cup.
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 not used: McKibbin, Vauls, Cameron
Referee: Andrew Davey (84, Graham McIlwrath)
Man of match: Jordan Stewart (pictured)
Match Rating: 9/10