Paul Heatley turns away in delight after grabbing his hat-trick (©INPHO/Stephen Hamilton)
Monday, 26 March 2018
Crusaders returned to the top of the Danske Bank Premiership with this defeat of Warrenpoint Town in front of the Sky Sports cameras at the Q Radio Arena.
In their last game before the split, the win leaves the Crues a point ahead of Coleraine along with a much superior goal difference.
After a scrappy start to the game Alan O'Sullivan created arguably the first effort of note when he wriggled past the visiting defence only to send his 22nd minute effort high and wide.
At the other end Colin Coates attempted a somewhat ambitious overhead kick but the ball went safely into the arms of Johnny Parr.
The deadlock was broken after half-an-hour. A great ball over the top of the 'Point defence was met by Paul Heatley who duly knocked a first time finish beyond the home 'keeper.
And Heatley almost doubled up a few minutes from the break with a good left foot effort before, in stoppage time, Sean Mackle will feel he should have done better with a free-kick on the edge of the box only to send the ball harmlessly over.
Crusaders doubled their advantage five minutes into the second half when Darren Murray unleashed a well executed volley from inside the area to round off a sustained period of possession.
'Point might have reduced the arrears on the hour after O'Sullivan got beyond the Crues defence only to somehow drag his effort wide.
Then, as the game drifted into the last 20 minutes, Heatley put the issue beyond doubt with his second of the evening after a superb build up from Jamie Glackin. Heatley then claimed the match ball just a couple of minutes after that with a well taken header.
Warrenpoint did get a late consolation for their efforts, however, when T.J. Murray managed to slide the ball underneath 'keeper Brian Jensen with a couple of minutes to go.
Warrenpoint Town: Parr, McGrandles, Reilly, McKenna, Dane, Wallace, Watters, Lynch, Forde, Mackle, O'Sullivan subs Türker (not used), Moan (not used), Hughes (replaced Wallace 67), T.J. Murray (replaced Watters 53), McMenamin (replaced Forde 53)
Crusaders: Jensen, Coates, Ward, McClean, Forsythe, Caddell, Snoddy, Carvill, Glackin, Heatley, Murray subs O'Neill (not used), McChrystal (not used), Bonner (replaced Carvill 77), Suarez (replaced Murray 82), Kanwei (replaced Heatley 85)
Referee: Ian McNabb