Belfast Telegraph

I just had to get it spot on after errors, says Owens

Crusaders 2 Coleraine 0

Get in: Crusaders ace Jordan Owens celebrates after netting a penalty in the Irish Cup semi-final
Get in: Crusaders ace Jordan Owens celebrates after netting a penalty in the Irish Cup semi-final

By Alex Mills

Towering Jordan Owens has admitted that he owed his Crusaders team-mates a goal.

The striker appeared to be having one of those days in Saturday's Tennent's Irish Cup semi-final with Coleraine at The Oval.

Usually so lethal in front of goal, Owens was guilty of missing two glorious second-half chances that would certainly have put the game to bed.

He shamefully fired wide after being left in the clear by a horrible back-pass by Ben Doherty before scooping another effort over.

When Owens did get an effort on target after meeting a cross from Jordan Forsythe, his booming header was splendidly pawed away by goalkeeper Chris Johns.

The Crues were clinging manfully to a 55th-minute penalty expertly converted by David Cushley after Aaron Canning had hauled down Paul Heatley.

But because of Owens' failure in front of goal, their fans were living on their nerves. That was until referee Tim Marshall awarded the Shore Road boys their second penalty following Gareth McConaghie's foolish tug on the big striker, who wasted no time in picking up the ball and setting it on the spot.

This time he made no mistake. The relief on the pitch and in the grandstand was clear.

The Crues will now face Ballinamallard United in the final on May 4.

"I know I missed two sitters, but I wanted to step up to take it - I owed the boys one," admitted Owens. "I was relieved to see it hit the net.

"I just wanted to get my hand on the ball to hit the penalty. McConaghie pulled my arm. At that stage, I just took a chance and went down. He had me by the arm, so I had to go down.

"After fluffing the two big chances I had, I had to try and create something. With Cush (Cushley) off the pitch, no one else was getting the ball off me.

"It was tough, Coleraine are a top side. It wasn't a great game. Maybe we were a bit better in the second half, but the pitch wasn't great. It wasn't pretty for both teams, we had to grind it out.

"On a pitch like that, it was impossible to play any kind of football. Everyone knows we are perhaps a bit more direct, which may have suited us a bit better, but it was an awful surface."

The game erupted for all the wrong reasons on 67 minutes when referee Marshall awarded the Bannsiders a penalty kick after Jamie Glackin was sent flying by a tackle from Sean Ward.

Having pointed to the spot, the Irvinestown whistler reversed his decision after consulting his assistant, Richard Story. Instead, he awarded a free-kick.

Owens added: "I didn't see it properly. From where I was, my first reaction was a penalty."

Coleraine boss Rodney McAree is adamant that the referee's decision not only cost his team a possible place in the final, but also a financial jackpot.

"Our target from the outset was European football - that incident could end up costing the club close to £250,000," fumed McAree. "It hurts a lot of people who put a lot of work into the running of Coleraine Football Club. It's criminal.

"You expect officials to get decisions right at this level - he was only yards away. Between the referee and the linesman, they have made a hash of it.

"These people are escorted off the pitch by security, they then lock themselves up in a little room with a bouncer on the door. What happens to people who make these bad decisions?

"Managers, coaching staff, players all suffer if they turn in poor performances, which could cost them their position. Nothing happens to officials. He'll probably officiate at Dollingstown next week, not pick up as much money and be back on the line with his wee flag in a few weeks."

CRUSADERS: Doherty, Burns, Coates, Lowry, Ward, Cushley (Rory Hale 75), Caddell, Forsythe, Ruddy, Owens, Heatley (Clarke 90). Unused subs: O'Neill, Beverland, Snoddy, Patterson, Ronan Hale.

COLERAINE: Johns, Mullan (McLaughlin 81), Lowry, Bradley, Carson, McConaghie, O'Donnell, McGonigle, Canning, Doherty, Glackin (Parkhill 75). Unused subs: Doherty, Douglas, Edgar, Shiels, King.

Referee: Tim Marshall.

Man of the match: David Cushley

Match rating: 5/10.

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