Stephen Baxter frustrated by officials in Crusaders draw with Glentoran

CRUSADERS boss Stephen Baxter was left frustrated over officials’ “inconsistent decisions” as his 10-man-side battled their way to a 1-1 draw with Glentoran in Saturday’s Sport’s Direct Premiership tie at Seaview.

On 49 minutes the Crues lost experienced defender Josh Robinson to a red card for hauling down Jay Donnelly as the striker sped through on goal. Baxter had no issues with the awarding of a red card, but was visibly agitated over a failure from referee Christopher Morrison take the same action just moments earlier.

“Look, regarding Josh, I don’t have any issues with the decision, it was a red car” he said.

“However, a minute before Aidan Wilson (Glentoran) should have walked.

“His was a dangerous tackle, it was over the top and could very easily have broken Philip Lowry’s leg, it was just a terrible tackle”.

Asked how the alleged inconsistency affects him, Baxter couldn’t have been clearer.

“It’s like a dagger to your heart.

“Justice hasn’t been served, and then literally a minute later one of our men is shown a red car for a pull back.

“It’s just very disappointing and frustrating, but it is what it is and we move on”.

The game itself was a thoroughly entertaining affair. 

After a lively start, it was the visitors who took the lead.  Captain Marcus Kane smashed a header off the crossbar from a corner, with the ball rebounding to Junior.  His effort was well saved by Jonny Tuffey in Crusaders’ goal but fell to Jay Donnelly who made no mistake from five yards.

The home side battled hard and deservedly were back level in injury time. Adam Lecky with the knock-down from a long punt up field and that man Philip Lowry fired home with the outside of the boot from the edge of the area to give Aaron McCarey no chance.

Ben Kennedy could have won it with a Penalty in the 67th minute after Aidan Wilson handled inside the area. Kennedy stepped up, but his tame effort was easily saved by McCarey.

Looking back on proceedings the Crues boss was unsure if it was a point gained or two points lost.

“Going a man down, getting a point out of the game would be a priority.” Baxter said.

“But looking back, we bossed the second half and could have won it with the penalty, but we just couldn’t take our chances”.

Concerningly, Glentoran maestro Bobby Burns was removed from the field of play mid-way through the second period after a nasty collision with the advertising hoarding.  The Crumlin-man received treatment for 20 minutes on the field, with referee Morrison rather curiously deciding to play-on despite corners and shots coming in very close to the treatment area, something that may be looked at by the NIFL and Referees body afterwards.

Glentoran manager Warren Feeney noted his concerns after the game.

“First and foremost, I’d like to offer our prayers and well-wishes to Bobby.  I went in to see him there, he was talking thankfully but he doesn’t look in a great way” Feeney said.

“Hopefully he will be off to hospital shortly, I would like to offer our thanks to Crusaders and the medical staff involved”.