Belfast Telegraph

Crusaders Richard Clarke is still dreaming after surviving scare

Glentoran 1-2 Crusaders

By Graham Luney

Glentoran will feel they deserved something out of this game but as they left empty handed, Crusaders served up further evidence their name could be inscribed on the Gibson Cup come the end of the season.

This was a massive win for the Crues and you could reach out and touch the relief in their dressing room after Eddie Patterson's side hit them with a number of punches but failed to land a decisive blow.

At times the visiting defence was exposed and appeared fragile, but they weathered the storm and celebrated a crucial three points at the finish.

In the battle of the talented teenagers, Glentoran's Jordan Stewart, who has sparked interest from Crystal Palace, Stoke City and Middlesbrough, outshone Gavin Whyte but the league leaders still had enough experience and steel to see the job through.

If Crusaders are to win the title their experienced players must stand up and be counted and both Timmy Adamson and Richard Clarke put their shoulder to the wheel in east Belfast.

Clarke said: "I came in last year and had a good run but my form wasn't great at the start of the season and I found myself out of the team," said the Castlederg man, who was heavily linked with a move to Ballinamallard United before opting for Crusaders.

"But I had a good, long chat with Stephen (Baxter, the manager) and the management staff and it was about me getting back to basics and playing football in the right areas.

"We are now pulling together and pulling each other along which helps us an individuals.

"I know there was disappointment at Ballinamallard but I have buried the hatchet with Whitey (Anderson) about the whole thing.

"We both realised there is more to life than football and I just felt I could still challenge for trophies at Crusaders and it is panning out that way."

Goals from Adamson and Paul Heatley had the Crues in the driving seat before Stewart's reply sparked concern.

Glens boss Eddie Patterson said: "We are slowly moving forward in the direction that we want.

"From this time last year we have made massive improvements and the players should be showing more belief and confidence in themselves."

GLENTORAN: Morris, Kane, Birney, Scullion, Stewart, Henderson, McAlorum, Addis, Gordon, McKee, Holland. Substitutions: Allen (Birney, 82 mins), McCaffrey (Stewart, 88 mins).

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Hanley, Coates, Robinson, Caddell, Clarke, Whyte, Heatley, Adamson, Owens. Substitutions: Molloy (Whyte, 73 mins), O'Carroll (Adamson, 86 mins), O'Flynn (Owens, 90 mins).

Man of the match: Richard Clarke

Match rating: 7/10

Referee: Raymond Crangle

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