Glenavon 0 Crusaders 4
The pain of last season’s semi-final defeat will likely never go away, but at least Crusaders have exorcised the ghost of Mourneview Park in the Irish Cup.
There was no need for penalties this time, unlike when they lost to Larne and had goalkeeper Jonny Tuffey sent off during the shoot-out, as they comfortably beat Glenavon 4-0.
There was, however, just as much controversy.
Trailing 1-0 to an early Jordan Forsythe goal, Glenavon had the ball in the net twice early in the second half only for both to be disallowed and then, after Paul Heatley and Ben Kennedy had made it 3-0, the Lurgan Blues were denied what looked like a certain penalty.
The non-award of that and Heatley’s second goal seconds later just made things even worse for Glenavon.
Just before they did get onto the scoresheet the Crues were close to taking the lead when Ross Clarke’s cross to the far post was met by Heatley and only a combination of a save by goalkeeper James Taylor and a clearance from Danny Wallace prevented a goal.
There was only seconds between that chance and the outstanding strike from Forsythe that did put the Seaview men in front.
The midfielder unleashed a shot from 25 yards that James Taylor could do nothing about.
Clarke clipped the outside of the far post with a low shot after a great ball from left to right by Forsythe on 24 minutes and then just a few minutes later Kennedy was holding his head in his hands after he blazed over the bar from just a couple of yards out.
In between, however, came the first of a number of controversial moments that Glenavon will point to. As Paddy Burns burst through from deep in the Crusaders half, it looked like there was contact from Billy Joe Burns that sent him to the ground.
Moving Conor McCloskey from a central position out to his favoured spot on the right wing brought a new impetus to Glenavon and within two minutes of the restart his cross into the middle was met by Matthew Snoddy, who tapped into the net. He had, however, strayed offside and the effort was ruled out.
There was more pain for exactly the same reason just eight minutes later when Andy Waterworth netted, but the outcome was the same — offside and no goal.
Just when Glenavon looked to be building momentum despite the frustration of the disallowed goals, Crusaders hit them with two body blows inside nine minutes to win the tie and seal progress.
The long ball forward by Aidan Wilson on 58 minutes might have been hopeful, but Heatley’s first touch was superb and he had a simple enough task to take the ball past Taylor on the edge of the box and finish.
The game was all but finished as a contest when Forsythe — who was at the centre of most of what was good about Crusaders — sent the ball forward and Kennedy took it on before cutting in from the right and clipping a beautiful left-foot shot just inside the far post.
When Heatley scored from almost exactly the same position 11 minutes from time, it was game over, but even that goal didn’t come without controversy as seconds beforehand, at a Glenavon corner, Crues defender Josh Robinson appeared to handle as he attempted to clear.
GLENAVON: Taylor, Ward, Haughey (Hunter 75 ), Wallace, Singleton, Fitzpatrick, O’Connor (J Doyle 75), Snoddy, P Burns (Scannell 62), McCloskey (Hall 75), Waterworth.
Unused subs: Stafford, A Doyle, Beggs.
CRUSADERS: Tuffey, BJ Burns (O’Rourke 80 ), Robinson, Larmour, Wilson, Clarke, Lowry (Caddell 70 ), Weir (Frazer 84), Heatley (Owens 84), Forsythe, Kennedy (Lecky 80).
Unused subs: O’Neill, Hegarty.
Referee: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown).
Man of the match: Jordan Forsythe
Match Rating: 7/10