'If you're going to play fair, play fair': Glentoran manager fumes over Cameron Stewart's red card
Glentoran boss Mick McDermott was seething after the last-minute dismissal of Cameron Stewart in Saturday's blockbuster at The Oval.
Referee Tim Marshall issued a straight red card to the versatile former Linfield, Ards and Glenavon man after a clash with Crusaders defender Howard Beverland, right under the nose of assistant official Richard Storey.
It was the final dramatic act to an intriguing 90 minutes between two of the Danske Bank Premiership's heavyweights.
Jamie McGonigle shot the Crues into the lead early in the second half - an advantage they held until 10 minutes from them when Robbie McDaid poached his 12th goal of the season.
But it was Stewart's sending off - for an alleged elbow - that sent the Glentoran fans into a rage and they certainly let Marshall know their feelings as he made his way to the sanctuary of the dressing room.
"I don't like talking about opposing players but it's clear he (Beverland) has got Cameron sent off," said McDermott.
"I hope that everyone has a look at the video because there is not a chance of Cameron deliberately hitting him with an elbow.
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"He doesn't have that in him. The big lad (Beverland) threw himself down, holding his throat. I would urge people to make the own conclusions. I don't like that happening in games. If you are going to play fair, play fair.
"I think our fans' reaction about the officials said it all. I don't want to comment further and talk myself into trouble, but I would only hope the officials look at some of the decisions they made.
"Do they sit in a room on a Monday morning and review their performance?
"I sit down with my players as individuals after the weekend and review their performances, Stephen Baxter will do the same with his lads.
"I would like to think that the other four important men on the pitch on Saturday would review their own performance - or is it just brushed under the carpet?
"Everyone is demanding more of us as managers and players, clubs are urged to go full-time, there is pressure to get into Europe. There is pressure on everyone. If everything is being upgraded, then every department in football must be upgraded, which includes the officials."
It was a totally forgettable first-half, with both team struggling to adapt to the blustery conditions.
But the Crues struck just four minutes after the restart when Jarlath O'Rourke's corner kick was only partially cleared to McGonigle (right) on the edge of the box and his rasping drive flashed past Marijan Antolovic.
Both sides squandered chances after that, but McDaid displayed all his predatory instincts on 80 minutes when Stewart and Gavin Peers put the Crues defence under pressure and, when ball fell to the in-form striker, his finish was clinical, sliding the ball under Gerard Doherty.
Crusaders boss Stephen Baxter admitted he was happy to travel back across town to north Belfast with a point.
"It was a fantastic game of football played in an incredibly strong wind," he said.
"Our first-half performance was really good, we were unlucky enough not to get a goal or two.
"Fair play to Glentoran, I thought they were very good after the break.
"They got into good areas and moved the ball around quickly. One or two of our boys were tiring a little bit. But that happens whey you are under pressure because we were defending a lead. Perhaps our goal came just too early in the second-half.
"I think we were the team that created the really good chances over the 90 minutes - but it was a brilliant game and a draw was a fair result.
On Stewart's late dismissal, Baxter added: "I didn't see the sending off incident. It was a ball going into the corner, but it was right under the nose of the linesman. They are there to do their jobs. That's why they are paid good money."
GLENTORAN: Antolovic 6, Kane 6, Peers 7, Gallagher 6 (Van Overbeek, 75 mins, 6), McDaid 8, Stewart 6, McClean 7, Pepper 7, Crowe 6, O'Neill 6 (Nasseri, 61 mins, 6), Plum 7. Unused subs: Morris, Birney, Frazer, Herron, Murray.
CRUSADERS: Doherty 6, Burns 7, Beverland 6, Coates 6 (Hegarty, 46 mins, 6), Lowry 6, McGonigle 6 (Heatley, 85 mins, 6), Caddell 6, Forsythe 7, O'Rourke 7, Owens 6 (Cushley, 85 mins, 6), Clarke 6. Unused subs: O'Neill, Ruddy, Thompson, McElroy.
REFEREE: Tim Marshall (Irvinestown) 6.
Robbie McDaid was left isolated at times, but he came alive at the right time to help his ream pinch a point.
Gavin Peers' raking punt through the middle was gobbled up by McDaid, but Howard Beverland somehow produced a goal saving block.
Tim Marshall was stroked off Glentoran's Christmas card list after Stewart's dismissal.