Levi Ives (45 1)
Levi Ives (46)

2

Michael Carvill (29)
Jordan Owens (63)
Jordan Owens (66)

3

Jordan Owens hit two to hand Crusaders the points (Picture: Stephen Hamilton/PressEye.com)

BATTLING CRUES HOLD TITLE RACE ADVANTAGE

Crusaders kept their noses in front in the race for the title with a battling victory over Cliftonville at Solitude.

Tomas Cosgrove might have opened the scoring for Cliftonville inside the opening quarter-of-an-hour when he came close with a free-kick.

The Crues edged in front on 28 minutes after Michael Carvill bundled the ball over from close range after Jason Mooney had initially done well to keep out a Gavin Whyte effort.

Moments after that Jordan Owens could have made it 2-0 only to head directly at Mooney from a good position.

Owens did have the ball in the net after that but his 'goal' from Paul Heatley's cross was ruled out offside.

However, Cliftonville got back on level terms just before the break when Levi Ives found the net after the ball was laid off for him by Jay Donnelly following a passing move down the right.

Then, within a minute of the restart, Ives fired the Reds in front with a stunning left foot volley from the edge of the area that appeared to take a deflection on its way past Sean O'Neill.

But back came the Crues with two goals soon after the hour mark.

Owens levelled on 63 minutes with a textbook header from a Heatley left-sided cross before doubling his tally to give Crusaders the lead again after nodding home at the back post a Billy Joe Burns cross from the right.

As the game moved into the final ten minutes 'keeper O'Neill did very well with a double save to deny both Donnelly and substitute Daniel Reynolds.

Cliftonville: Mooney, McGovern, Ives, Curran, Garrett, J. Donnelly, Lavery, Cosgrove, Finnegan, Nelson, McGuinness subs Bonner (not used), M. Donnelly (replaced Lavery 87), Winchester (not used), Reynolds (replaced Garrett 76), Burke (replaced Mooney 32)

Crusaders: O'Neill, Burns, Beverland, Carvill, Caddell, McClean, Owens, Clarke, Keane, Heatley, Whyte subs Mitchell (not used), Snoddy (replaced Whyte 85), Cushley (replaced Heatley 90+1), Forsythe (replaced Clarke 8), Suarez (not used)

Referee: Raymond Crangle

Tags:  Cliftonville  Crusaders