Rainey days for Glentoran against Crusaders
Glentoran 1 Crusaders 1
Glentoran are yet to register a league victory this season after they had to settle for another point this time against Crusaders in a game that really only lit up in the final stages.
Kyle Neill's free-kick put the east Belfast men in front but ex-Glenman David Rainey headed an equaliser for the Crues to give them a share of the spoils that on the balance of play they certainly deserved.
Alan McDonald's side – most people's tip for the title this year – were far from their best as they struggled to break down a Crusaders team who will have no fear in taking on any JJB Sports Premiership side this season and with the rest of the contenders dropping points, this will definitely go down as two points lost.
It was from a set-piece that the home side garnered their first chance on 13 minutes – helped in no small part to the slippery mitts of Crues goalkeeper Aaron Kerr.
Kyle Neill's corner was fumbled by the visiting stopper and fell at the feet of Fordyce. The Northern Ireland under-21 international was forced to turn as the ball landed awkwardly and his left foot shot flew over the bar.
While Glentoran had most of the play it was far from one way traffic and Crusaders revealed their intent to soak up the pressure and hit their hosts on the counter-attack – a tactic that almost reaped rich rewards on 21 minutes.
Sean Ward gave the ball away in his own half, pulling a number of his own players out of position in doing so.
Colin Nixon had to come across to make a blocking tackle on Rainey and as Jordan Owens sent a great cross into the box, Aaron Black was left free to head towards goal, but straight at Elliott Morris.
The bright opening from the Glens began to quickly fade away and with the hard-to-please natives becoming restless, a modicum of nervousness slipped into their play.
The free-flowing football of the early stages was replaced by a more direct approach, and the impressive Crusaders defence were coping with ease.
On the stroke of half-time, after some indecisive Glens defending, Black's cross found Mark Dickson who shot over from 12 yards.
The east Belfast men came out after the break with more impetus in their play – Kerr did well on 51 minutes to get across and save a 25-yard Hamilton free-kick and then three minutes later he was equal to a fine effort on the turn from Darren Boyce.
With the Crues so difficult to conquer it looked like it was going to take a set-play for the breakthrough to arrive and with ten minutes remaining, the home supporters were finally on their feet.
Neill had one go at a free-kick that was originally saved by Kerr but brought back as the wall had encroached.
Having had it laid onto him the first time by Daryl Fordyce, he elected to take it himself at the second attempt and rifled the ball through the wall and beyond Kerr.
That looked to have won it for the Glens but with three minutes remaining there was yet more drama as Crusaders grabbed an equaliser.
A long ball from the right was flicked on by substitute Alain Emerson and Rainey was there to head home from close range against his old club.
GLENTORAN: Morris, Nixon, Leeman, Ward, Hill, Boyce, McCabe, Fordyce, Neill, Hamilton, Halliday. Subs: Taylor (GK), Fitzgerald, Burrows, McGovern, Black.
CRUSADERS: Kerr, McBride, McKeown, Doherty, Magowan, Coates, Coulter, Black, Dickson, Rainey, Owens. Subs: Emerson, Spence, McAllister, Hyndes, Donnelly.
Referee: Colin Burns (Newtownabbey).