Irish Premiership: Jay Donnelly hits last-gasp winner as Glentoran end long wait for Crusaders victory

Declan Caddell
Jamie McDonagh came into the Glentoran starting line-up for the visit of Crusaders

A clever Jay Donnelly lob in injury-time handed Glentoran a last-gasp 1-0 victory over Crusaders at the Oval.

It delivered a first win in 22 Irish Premiership games for the Glens over the Crues and takes them to within two points of second-placed Coleraine.

Philip Lowry, who earlier had a shot cleared off the line, headed over a good opportunity to level for the visitors in the final minute.

The defeat was a fourth loss in a row for Stephen Baxter's men.

It means they drop out of the top six but, with the Bannsiders losing to Cliftionville, Mick McDermott's east Belfast outfit are just two points behind them in the title race.

A tight match looked to be heading for a scoreless draw when Donnelly ran on to a 91st minute Andrew Mitchell pass and, with the ball bouncing invitingly, he lifted a lovely lob over the advancing Sean O'Neill and into the net.

The late drama did not end there, though with Ross Clarke firing off target before delivering a right-wing cross in the 94th minute but the diving Lowry could not control his header and it flew over the crossbar.

The Crues came desperately close to breaking the deadlock a minute after the restart. Glens stand-in keeper Rory Brown spilled a Paul Heatley cross and when it fell to Lowry his shot went under the keeper but Marcus Kane was covering to clear off the line.

Jay Donnelly missed a glorious chance to open the scoring 15 minutes later when he was well over the bar with a free header after his brother Rory found him with a pinpoint left-wing cross.

Glens sub Dale Gorman then had to go off injured just a few minutes after coming on and his replacement, Seanan Clucas, had a shot deflected wide before Rhys Marshall flashed a cross in but no home player was able to get on the end of it.

Glentoran made the brighter start to the match and Hrjove Plum tried his luck from distance early on but O'Neill was able to save his well-hit shot comfortably.

Crusaders' only effort of note in the first half was an audacious one from Jamie McGonigle, with the striker hitting a volley superbly on the turn but from 25 yards out his spectacular effort went just wide.

Plum wasted a good opportunity from a free-kick and then found Marcus Kane in space with a corner but the Glens captain could not control his header which drifted over the crossbar.

Jay Donnelly broke free down the left-hand channel 10 minutes before the break, but his angled drive was saved at the near post by O'Neill, who was recalled to the Crusaders team in place of Jonny Tuffey.

Top Stories